National Historic Landmarks
Alaska’s nationally designated landmarks span the state from Kake, in Southeast Alaska, to the Birnirk site in Barrow, the northernmost community in Alaska. They range from Eagle, on the Canadian border, to Attu, at the western end of the Aleutian Island chain. Seventeen landmarks are considered to be archeological, with most dating back to pre-European times. There are also 32 historic landmarks, commemorating historic themes since the landing of Vitus Bering on Alaskan shores in 1741. Altogether, these landmarks tell the story of roughly 11,000 years of Alaskan history.
Onion Portage Archeological District - Designated June 2, 1978
For thousands of years, vast numbers of caribou have passed through this area on their seasonal migrations between tundra and taiga. Drawn by these herds, hunters, both ancient and modern, have stationed themselves at the vantage point afforded by the site's location to await their coming. Within the archeological district is the deeply stratified Onion Portage site proper, where archeologists excavated nine cultural complexes, ranging from the Akmak Complex (ca. 8,000-6,500 BC) to the Arctic Woodland Eskimo (ca. 1000-1700 AD). The stratigraphic sequence found at Onion Portage established the model used by archeologists in establishing a cultural chronology for the region.
Did You Know?
In 1940, archeologist J. Louis Giddings traveled down the Kobuk River on a homemade raft, with three young Native men as guides. They found many ancient house depressions, including one at Onion Portage in Kobuk Valley National Park. The site is now believed to be about 10,000 years old.