Porpoises, birds and fish were floating on ash and pumice several feet deep, choking the bay. There was no drinking water and little to eat. In that first light, the elders got together and chose nine young men, George Kosbruk among them, to paddle three kayaks across Shelikof Strait to Kodiak for help Kaiakhvagnak Paul Kodiak cannery and under the command of Second Lieutenant W. Thompson, anchored in Kaflia Bay at in the morning. Landed and found natives destitute, but apparently in normal health, and very badly frightened.
Volcanic ashes had buried village to a depth of three feet on the level, closing all streams and shutting off the local water supply.
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Salmon were dead in the lake, and as it was apparent that the fish would not return for some time, I gathered all natives, with cooking utensils, bedding, and boats, and placed them on the Redondo. The village was comprised of natives from Cape Douglas to Katmai, seismic disturbances having caused them to abandon their usual camps and seek mutual protection at Kaflia Bay. In addition to the refugees, found five natives employed by salmon fishery located at this point.
From all information gathered from the head men, I judged that all natives along the coast had been accounted for, and therefore stood out of Kaflia Bay at p. USRCS One month after the eruption, some of the Katmai refugees, 78 in number, boarded the U. Senior Captain W.
The Katmai people were not happy with this selection, citing the rainy weather and concerns about reported winter snow and ice conditions. So, three weeks later a new site was selected that had a beach suitable for landing skin boats, a plentiful supply of driftwood, abundant animal sign, fresh water nearby, and well-drained high ground for homes.
Located miles km southwest of Katmai village and neighboring the former village of Mitrofania, this new settlement was named Perry now Perryville after K. Perry, Captain of the Manning. Though now far from home, this village was in the familiar shadow of an active volcano, this time it was Mt. Veniaminof, which had last erupted 20 years earlier. Perryville is a successful community of today and remains a seat of Alutiiq culture and language for people of the middle peninsula Morseth New Savonoski has since been abandoned for a nearby village, South Naknek, five miles downriver at the mouth of the Naknek River.
The native villages Katmai, Kaflia, and Kaguyak on the Pacific coast, and the Severnovsk settlements were abandoned during the eruption and were never re-established Black , Dumond These villages had been closely knit culturally through language, kinship, shared hunting territories, and trade for untold generations. Recent archeological surveys along the Savonoski River documented a long-standing pattern of periodic village relocation within drainage systems beginning at least 1, years ago Hilton This is in keeping with ethnohistoric records of changing village locations and names throughout the nineteenth century and until the eruption Black , Dumond , Davis A network of trails, along waterways and over mountain passes, further articulated the relationships among these villages as well as use of this broad region as a home territory.
From there he could access the Bristol Bay coast. Another important native trail connected the inhabitants of the Severnovsk villages to Pacific coast settlements via the Savonoski and Ninagiak River watersheds. By some accounts, the eruption did not have a significant impact on vegetation or on large terrestrial and marine mammals outside the immediate scene of the eruption, but seriously affected other subsistence resources such as small land mammals, birds and fish.
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Few fish were able to spawn in the ash-filled streams, and the recorded salmon catch on Kodiak showed a significant decline between and There was a return to normal numbers, and it is estimated that all areas occupied prior to the eruption may have been habitable 10 to 20 years after the eruption Dumond By that time, however, President Wilson had signed a proclamation establishing Katmai National Monument on September 24, , inclusive of all the above-mentioned village sites.
Annual, month-long bear hunts along the Savonoski by American Pete and other former residents were re-established by this time, and continued at least until Hussey Salmon harvesting within the Naknek Lake system, particularly along Brooks River remained active through the s and is an important interest today. Harry Kaiakokonok became chief of Perryville in and was a church leader for many years before becoming a priest. Interviewed by National Park Service ranger Michael Tollefson and archaeologist Harvey Shields another 30 years later, his stories had become more reflective and detailed.
When questioned about the establishment of the park, Harry asked first whether hunting would be allowed there. A regrettable consequence of village abandonment was the loss of carved wooden ceremonial masks from Old Savonoski. On our trips back to our ancestral homeland near Brooks Camp In we learned that Harry Featherstone removed the masks in The news violated our sacred trust.
President Wilson had declared the area a National Monument in How could this happen? Nielsen Harry Featherstone was a trapper who had built a cabin at the head of Naknek Lake. Documents indicate that Featherstone decorated the walls of his cabin with 35 masks that he had removed from an overhang near Old Savonoski Clemens and Norris Fortunately, he gave seven of the masks to a Naknek schoolteacher, who in turn placed them in the Alaska Territorial Museum, now the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.
The whereabouts of the others is unknown and remains one of the deepest concerns of the Katmai descendants. Clustered on former river and lake terraces are dimples in the surface representing over prehistoric house depressions, infilled by post-habitation ash fall and sedimentation. These villages and camps are as old as 4, years and as recent as years old; some settlements were as large as Katmai village, Kaguyak and the Savonoski villages in their prime. While the unique and fascinating culture history is well-known among archaeologists, few visitors to Brooks Camp are aware of it.
I felt the breath of the beast and heard the volcano stir inside the mountain
The great eruption of deposited over feet of ash in a once verdant, resource-rich valley, effectively sealing its prehistoric record for as many more lifetimes as those already spent there. We know from coastal sites and those scattered throughout the park that this valley had been home to people as early as 8, years ago. On a windswept ridge near the outer edge of the Valley of 10, Smokes, the tiny, sharp stone blades, called microblades, remaining from a small hunting camp occupied millennia ago, attest to the story buried beneath the ash in the valley.
The group represents the descendants of the Katmai people scattered by the eruption and who today are represented by over 30 separate geographically-based native organizations. Arndt, K. Letter to Jeanne Schaaf dated October 17, Black, Lydia T. Letter Report to J. Clemens, J. Anchorage, Alaska. Davis, W.
Report to the National Park Service. Mount Katmai, Alaska Eruption.
Dumond, D. People and Pumice on the Alaska Peninsula. Sheets and D. Grayson, pp. Academic Press. New York.
Eyewitness: Volcano & Earthquake (Eyewitness Books)
Alaska Peninsula Communities Displaced by Volcanism in Fierstein, J. Geological Survey Open-File Report Griggs, R. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. National Geographic Society. Washington, D. Hilton, M. Hussey, J. Jessee, T. Letter from Tom Jessee to Dr. Luther Cressman, June 12, Kaiakhvagnak, Khariton [Hariton] Harry Kaiakokonok.
Interview with Michael Tollefson, April 29, Kaiakhvagnak, K. Kosbruk, G. McClenahan, P. Morseth, M. Nielsen, M. Washington Government Printing Office.
Explore This Park. By Jeanne Schaaf. Figure 1. Tourist party at the base of Mt.
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