West Cook Inlet: Ethnographic Overview and Assessment for Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

green book cover of West Cook Inlet with two inset photos of small villages with skiffs near the water.

"One man went out to sea in a one-hole skin boat to look for a whale. When he came to a sleeping whale, he shot a crossbow arrow into its blowhole and then he got away fast. The next day he looked for it and found it floating. He went home. And the south wind blew. When it stopped blowing, then all the people from the different villages went to Polly Creek and looked for it. They found it floating and tried to move it toward shore. And at Polly Creek it drifted ashore. Thus they named the place, "'where we found a whale.'" -Peter Kalifornsky

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This report describes the culture and history of western Cook Inlet in southcentral Alaska. It is a companion to Nanutset ch'u Q'udi Gu (Before Our Time and Now): An Ehtnohistory of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, which was published one year after this report. The primary goal is to identify the traditional and contemporary associations between the people and communities in and near the coastal and inland regions of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

Primary author Ron Stanek has worked with the Tyonek community and has documented subsistence practices in the region for 30 years. This initial comprehensive background study of types, uses, and users of ethnographic resources reviews existing information and identifies new data needs. The overview reviews and summarizes existing ethnographic data for people and resources; the assessment evaluates them and identifies data gaps. Information is derived primarily from existing archival and published materials and is supplemented with ethnographic interviewing of knowledgeable community consultants.


  1. Study Background
  2. West Cook Inlet and the Dena'ina
  3. The Coming Of the Russians 1780s - 1867
  4. The Early American Period 1867 - 1900
  5. The Early and Middle 20th Century 1900 - 1960s
  6. Contemporary Life on the West Side of Cook Inlet
  7. Discussion and Conclusion

Publication Details

Authors: Ronald T. Stanek, James A. Fall, and Davin L. Holen
1st Edition Publisher: National Park Service, 2006

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