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The Katalla and Controller Bay Alaska Project

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Natives Of The Katalla Region

Alutii Kayaks
aluitkayaks.jpg


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Nobody is sure exactly when the coastal region around Controller Bay and Katalla was first inhabited. The archeological record indicates that the area may have been settled as early as 6,000 years ago. It is not known who for sure who these first visitors were though. The area is unique in Alaska because defines the boundary for several different native cultures. The Eskimo or Alutiiq from the west, the Athabaskan natives from the interior and the Tlinkit from the southeast all have the extents of their ranges ending here.

It appears that the Chugachimiut Eskimo and Ugalakmuit Eskimos were some of the first natives to explore and permanently settle in the area. They are closely related to the Alutiiq of Kodiak. They settled primarily on the islands off shore but had hunting and fishing camps on the mainland. The archeological data supports the arrival of this native group in the region about 3,000 to 3,500 years ago. There is evidence of continuous settlement for at least the 500 years preceding the arrival of Europeans. These natives made their Kayaks from animal skins and subsisted mainly on fish and sea mammals. The homes they built were dependent upon the time of the year and the availability of materials. In the summer they often lived in tents made of animal skins, but in the winter they had homes made of driftwood and stone. As the area became more settled they built more permanent structures of wood. They speak an Alutiiq dialect of the Yupik language.

The Galyax Kwaan group of the Tlingit natives arrived in the Controller bay area from the southeast sometime in the late 1700's. This native group subsisted primarily on the abundant sea food found in the area. They did hunt but mostly for skins. They settled into small villages and established summer hunting and fishing camps through out the Controller Bay area. Their homes where made of wood planks and had small totem pole on the outside of them. They built potlatch halls and had active social and religious lives around them. The Tlingit are known for the artful basket weaving and other art work they did to fill the cold winter nights of the area. They built strong sea going canoes and kayaks made of logs. They could be a very aggressive warlike people. Their language belongs to the Na-Dene phylum.

The Eyak people are one of the most interesting in Alaska. They are originally from the interior and are a part of the Athabaskan culture. They settled the Katalla area in about 1700. As a native group they were never large but they where the most numerous in the area. They were known as the middlemen between the various different groups of natives and often settled the disputes of their neighbors. Their culture is a curious mixture of the many surrounding them, and they seem to have adopted many of the Tlingit traditions as their own. They built their homes from wood planks and established potlatch buildings. The boats they preferred to build where canoes made of hollowed out logs. They subsisted primarily on fish and small seals. They hunted land mammals and gathered local berries. Their language is a dialect of Athabaskan.

Coastal Tlingit
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Eyak Canoe
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