Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge


A view of Kodiak in 1942.

Photo by Steve McCutcheon, Anchorage Museum of History and Art, SM33352.

Today, as we begin to respect our traditional culture and recover our dignity, we are turning to our history.

– Sven D. Haakanson, Jr.


The Sugpiat and the Legacy of Western Conquest

Sven D. Haakanson, Jr.

The Sugpiat live in south central Alaska, in coastal regions from Prince William Sound to the Alaska Peninsula. Our names include Sugpiaq (spelled Sugpiat in plural form) and Alutiiq (plural, Alutiit), both used today by the people themselves along with Aleut, a term introduced by Russian colonizers. The Kodiak archipelago, at the heart of this area, has always been the most intensely populated part of the Sugpiaq homeland. Archaeological evidence suggests that there were over 15,000 souls living in this large, ecologically rich and varied region in the late 18th century. Then Europeans arrived. By 1810 there were only 5,000 Sugpiat. By 1867 just 1,300 of our people survived. What happened to the Sugpiat? What happened to us? Continue Reading