The Kijik area (which includes Kijik Lake and the portion of the Kijik River that flows between the lake and Lake Clark) has been given some of the nation's highest designations of cultural importance. It is a National Historic Landmark and an Archeological District, one of only three areas in Alaska with both designations. Kijik is also a documented cultural landscape.
Kijik National Historic Landmark contains more than a dozen archeological sites, including a village abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century. The sites are affiliated with the inland Dena'ina Athabascan people who continue to live in the Lake Clark area.
Kijik village was first mentioned in historical texts in 1818, but the first residents may have moved in several decades before. The community contained many houses, and according to elders from Nondalton, a Russian Orthodox church was built around 1889. Kijik residents weathered a number of introduced diseases, but following outbreaks of flu and measles between 1902 and 1909, families began to leave for Old Nondalton, Tanalian Point, or elsewhere. By 1909, the village was abandoned.
Evidence from other archeological sites in the Landmark indicates that Dena'ina people were in the Kijik area for many generations before Russian contact in the late 1700s. Few sites have been tested and radiocarbon dated, leaving the duration of Dena'ina presence in the area a mystery.
Did You Know?
The Snug Harbor Cannery off the coast of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve operated from 1919 to 1980. In its early years the cannery used fish traps, which were banned after Alaska gained statehood.