History & Culture

Old Savonoski was abandoned after the eruption of Mt. Katmai/Novarupta in 1912.
An archeologist maps Savonoski village in 1953 (no longer inhabited after the 1912 Novarupta-Katmai eruption)

The Cultural Resources program at Katmai National Park and Preserve documents people in the parks, now and in the past, and helps preserve places with special history.

People have made their homes in Katmai National Park and Preserve for at least 9,000 years. Cultural resources professionals help share the stories of people with ties to the park, then and now.

In Alaska, as in the rest of the United States, the National Park Service recognizes and manages five basic types of cultural resources:

  • Archeological Sites: Physical evidence of past human occupation or activity (the National Park Service recognizes two basic subcategories; prehistoric and historic archeological sites).
  • Cultural Landscapes: Geographic areas associated with a historic event, activity, or person; or that exhibit other cultural or aesthetic values (this category includes designed, vernacular, and ethnographic landscapes). Cultural landscapes encompass both cultural and natural resources as well as any wildlife or domestic animals that have historic associations with the landscapes.
  • Ethnographic Resources: Sites, structures, objects, landscapes, or natural features of traditional importance to a contemporary cultural group.
  • Museum Objects: Material things that possess scientific, historical, cultural or aesthetic values (usually movable by nature or design).
  • Historic Structures: Constructed works created to serve some human activity (usually immovable by nature or design – buildings, bridges, earthworks, roads, rock cairns, etc. – prehistoric or historic).

The authentic remnants of our nation’s cultural legacy give us an irreplaceable tangible link to our past that cannot be replaced by a book or an article. These authentic places and objects are material touchstones to a past that we experience for ourselves. They serve as material anchors to our past and reference points to our future that cannot be easily erased or eliminated. We can see them, touch them, connect with them in such a way that we can know the past actually happened. Each generation can learn from the remnants, the buildings, and the objects of the past; these are the landmarks that link us over time and space and give meaning and orientation to our lives.

Cover pages of Story of House and Witness Books

Cultural History eBooks:
What was it like to experience the the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century? Read about the fear and awe local residents felt as the skies darkened and ash rained from the sky in Witness: First Hand Accounts of the Largest Volcanic Eruption of the 20th Century.

People have used the rich resources available in the Brooks River area for nearly 5,000 years. In Story of a House, archaeologist Don Dumond illustrates this rich history by recounting the discovery, excavation, and reconstruction of a prehistoric home site along Brooks River.

Historic family of four stands in front of a salmon drying rack.


Learn more about the people and cultures tied to the history of the lands within Katmai's boundaries.

A historic photo of three men standing by a steam vent, with mountains in the background.


Learn more about historic places within Katmai National Park.

A woven bowl next to a ruler


The Katmai National Park and Preserve museum collection consists of more than 400,000 objects.

Last updated: September 28, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 7
1000 Silver Street, Building 603

King Salmon, AK 99613


(907) 246-3305

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