Kijik National Historic Landmark
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.
The word Kijik is an English language spelling of Qizjeh, which roughly translates to "where people gather" in Dena'ina.
Photo courtesy of the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.
Historical texts as old as 1818 mention Kijik village, but the first residents may have moved there decades earlier. The community contained many houses and, according to elders from the village of Nondalton, a Russian Orthodox church was built around 1889.
Kijik residents initially weathered a number of diseases introduced by outsiders, but following outbreaks of flu and measles between 1902 and 1909, families began to leave for Old Nondalton, Tanalian Point, or elsewhere. By 1909, residents had completely abandoned the village.
Evidence from other archeological sites in the Kijik Landmark indicates that Dena'ina people were in the Kijik area for many generations before Russian contact in the late 1700s. Scientists have tested and radio-carbon dated only a few sites in the area, leaving the duration of Dena'ina presence in the area a mystery.
Did You Know?
Lake Clark is 1056 feet deep and covers 128 square miles. Thousands of years ago, the lake (and nearby Lake Iliamna) may have been open to salt water before being closed off by glacial outwash deposits.