Making History

Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Life on the Alaska Peninsula.

Patricia Partnow

Making History

Patricia Partnow

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

298 pages | black and white photos | 6 x 9 | © 2001
Paper $27.95 ISBN: 9781889963396 Published April 2002
Cloth $49.95 ISBN: 9781889963389 Published April 2002
A model of innovative ethnohistory, this account of the Alutiiq people of the Alaska Peninsula spans some 9000 years, from archaeological traces to World War II, concentrating on the 200 years between Russian occupation and the start of the war with Japan. Unlike most historical documentation of the region, it is not a passive record: using collective and individual histories of a people as captured through writing, artifact, oral history, and personal narrative, Partnow weaves a rich story of Alutiiqs not only making their own history, but also expressing a unique perception of the very nature of history. Numerous historical and contemporary maps and photographs, as well as Partnow’s historical and cultural background, allow the people to speak for themselves while expanding the ability of readers to interpret the various voices. Together the many elements of this history show a vital culture making its way into the future without letting go of the past.

Making History is a special find for all readers interested in Alaska Native peoples, and in particular for scholars and students exploring important new methods of anthropological and ethnohistorical research and writing.




How This Book Came About

History and Ethnohistory

History as Interpretation

How This Book Is Arranged

The Storytellers


Ivanof Bay

Chignik Lake

Chignik Bay

Port Heiden

Chignik Lagoon

South Naknek

Other Storytellers


1                    Alutiiqs and the Land

The Land

Alaska Peninsula Inhabitants

2                    The Precontact Period on the Alaska Peninsula


Precontact Culture as Reported by the Russians

3                    The Russian Period on the Alaska Peninsula: 1741 to 1867

Europeans Learn about the Alaska Peninsula

Russian Economic Interest in the Alaska Peninsula

1780s to 1818

1818 to 1867

Russians Along the Katmai Coast and the Naknek River Drainage


Katmai in the Nineteenth Century

Russian Period Alutiiq Settlements

Russian Orthodoxy and the Alutiiqs


Effects of Company and Church on Alaska Peninsula Alutiiqs

Population Decline

Changes in Warfare and Trading Practices


Beginning of an Alutiiq Identity


4                    The American Period, 1867 to 1912

The American Fur Trade

End of the Fur Trade


Commercial Fishing and Other Economic Opportunities on the Alaska Peninsula

Creoles in the American Period

Alaska Peninsula Villages in the Nineteenth Century


Gambling as Control: The Game of Kaataq


Dawning of the Twentieth Century

5                    Katmai, 1912

The Katmai Eruption

Posteruption Settlements

6                    The American Period, 1912 to World War II

Social Structure

Population Dynamics

Population Increase



Subsistence and the Continuation of Tradition

Fishing and Cannery Work




Organized Religion

Disasters, Natural and Human

Postscript: World War II and Life after the War

Afterword: History Made and Remade

References Cited



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