Alaska Native Heritage at Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve in southwestern Alaska is on the traditional homelands of the Unangax̂, Yup’ik and Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people based on linguistic studies and history of the area.

While today’s landscape is a vibrant reminder of Alaska’s location in the volcanically active “Ring of Fire,” the massive volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago that formed the Aniakchak caldera also made the area uninhabitable for generations. The oldest known archeological sites date to around 2,000 years ago and show that prehistoric communities hunted, fished, trapped, picked berries, and gathered shellfish. By 1,200 years ago, the strategy had proven so successful that the population had expanded dramatically.

During the historic era, people continued to make a living from the rich resources of the land. As industrialization gripped the rest of the United States, Aniakchak residents followed suit. Commercial fishing and cannery operations began in the twentieth century and continue today in the lower Alaska Peninsula area.

Today, people descended from the early inhabitants of Aniakchak continue to maintain their subsistence and cultural traditions. To learn more about their rich history and how Alaska Natives interface with public lands today, visit Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve or browse any of the following resources:

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    Last updated: January 16, 2024