Ocean Alaska Science and Learning CenterNational Park Service

Coastal Archaeology

The OASLC, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the Unversity of Alaska, University of California Berkeley, the Pratt Museum and the Alaska Native villages of Port Graham, Nanwalek, and Seldovia, has been supporting archaeological investigations in Aialik Bay, on the outer coast of Kenai Fjords National Park. Dr. Aron Crowell, Alaska Director of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and principal investigator on this project, and his team have located a number of sites along the coast that indicate human use going back at least 1000 years. Descendants of these ancient Alutiiq people live today in the villages of Port Graham, Nanwalek, and Seldovia, and stories of life on the outer coast persist. Dr. Crowell's investigation has combined standard archaeological techniques with traditional Native knowledge and oral history to gain greater insight into the interpretation of these sites. The villagers involved have enriched their own cultural knowledge and identity.

The archaeology of Kenai Fjords is at a very preliminary stage. Unraveling the mystery of this early culture, and its relationship to the Alutiiq traditions of nearby Prince William Sound, the Alaska Peninsula, and the people of Port Graham and Nanwalek requires much more study. Use the links at the right to learn more about the archaeology of the outer coast in Kenai Fjords National Park.