By Tim Malchoff & Kari Brookover
During pre-contact times there were seasonal villages in Prince William Sound. Over centuries, our ancestors established various settlements. Traditional place names connect the Sugpiaq and Eyak people to our long lost history in the Chugach Region.
1. What is the purpose of the place that made is important or memorable?
2. What are the stories about the abandoned village sites?
3. What are the connections?
4. How does pre-contact names and present day differ?
“People were still nomadic when I was a kid in the ‘40s and’50s. They migrated with the fish. Our people living in Portlock would come to Port Graham over land. When the cannery closed down there in Portlock, people moved to Nanwalek, Port Graham, and Seldovia.” - Elenore McMullen, past chief and Elder, Port Graham, 2004 Imam Cimiucia - Our Changing Seas p. 20
Makut neqet pisurkat ekgiliqatarpiil’ata naugtarllalrit taumi naugtarllaqait cacateng nangpia ciqlluateng ilaklluki taumi kipulluteng amleriaqata nangkutaaqamegt’ki. Nunilanengut all’ingurmi,cill naugtarllaqait enteng taumi ag’urluteng uksuamek iciwamen tull’uteng. Nutaan nat’en agen’irluta cacat nang’urpia.” When resources became limited, people moved on. They took all of their camp out. Then they would go back when resources returned. Villages didn't exist, there were seasonal camps. They always traveled, from fall to spring. That’s what is happening here, we’re not moving." -Nick Tanape Sr., Elder, Nanwalek, 2004. Imam Cimiucia- Our Changing Sea, p. 40
Traditional place names embody the history of the Chugach Region and its people. The Indigenous Peoples of the Chugach Region lived there long before explorers came. Traditional Place names, in the native language, represent the ancestry, the origin and the traditional lifestyle associate with the place. Traditional place names were given to natural landmarks, trails, villages, smokehouses, and communities, primarily to help identify locations when traveling.
As the Sugpiaq and Eyak people began to settle in one area, the establishment of villages began to form. At the beginning of the 1900’s traditional migration was on the decline and over time it slowly stopped primarily due to the commercial fishing industry providing a reliable income. During this time the culture and heritage began shifting to a new lifestyle, primarily due to advances in technology resulting in a less-nomadic life.
Presently, the history of our culture and heritage is slowly drifting away with every Elder that passes. Elders in our community hold traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of our culture, history, and the establishment of communities and meanings behind names given to places. It is vital to document this wonderful wealth of our Elder’s TEK so we never forget.
The Traditional Place Names heritage kit focuses on traditional place names, meanings, history and geography within the Chugach Region. Knowing traditional place names helps connect and identify locations from oral stories or written history of ancestors and the traditional lifestyle.
Native Place Names on the Land
Jim McDaniel, Cordova
Nick Moonin, Port Graham, Traditional Place Names
Prince William Sound Traditional Place Names Work Session
Mark King, Cordova on Traditional Place Names
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• Climate Change
• Food From the Sea
• Honoring Eyak
• Our Water
• Traditional Food & Recipes
• Traditional Housing & Shelters
• Traditional Place Names
• Traditional Transportation
• Traditional Weather Forecasting
• Additional Heritage Kits
1840 Bragaw Street, Suite 110
Anchorage, Alaska 99508-3463
ANA Grant Number S356A150066