Beyond the Moon Crater Myth
A New History of the Aniakchak Landscape
A Historic Resource Study for Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve
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Aniakchak Ensnared:
The Canned Salmon Industry in Ugashik, Chignik, and Aniakchak Bay

"There's only one thing wrong with the fish here," I put in. "The poor fish don't know anything acout volcanology—that's where all the trouble lies."

Father Bernard Hubbard,
"Salmon" from Cradle on the Storms

The weather worsened while the explorers waited. Itching to get out to Aniakchak Bay, the restless men sat on the pilings of a cannery dock. While lingering, they began to watch with interest the fishing activity going on before them in the bay. One after another, fish traps filled cannery tenders with sockeye salmon. "This is nothing," the cannery superintendent explained to Hubbard, "There are about eight thousand salmon in this bunch, but during the early runs even thirty thousand at a lick wouldn't be large." [1]

Although Father Hubbard sought adventure in the last frontier, the Glacier Priest was impressed with the efficiency and modernity of the commercial fishing industry. The priest recognized the technological innovation and capabilities that the canning industry had introduced to Alaska over the decades, and perhaps on some levels, he saw such patterns of industrialization and incorporation as more influential on the region than even his beloved Aniakchak Crater:

The brailing had meanwhile been finished, the nets were let back into the water, and with its shining load of sea wealth, the tender was speeding back to the cannery. With modern efficiency methods, all those fish would be in labeled cans within twenty-four hours and ready for the market of the outside world... There are more interesting problems than volcanoes on the Alaska Peninsula! [2]

About the same time prospectors were searching for commercial quantities of oil in Cold Bay, the canned salmon industry reached the central portion of the Alaska Peninsula, and brought the mechanized business of catching and processing salmon for profit to the region. Salmon canneries were similar to the oil boom town of Kanatak, in that they were self-contained company towns, complete with their own mess hall, meat locker, stable, chicken coop, laundry, machine shop, carpenter shop, hospital, bunkhouses, bookkeeping office, provision warehouse, and stores.

On a much larger scale than the oil industry at the time, the commercial fishing industry imported from the Lower 48 every machine, tin, plank, and employee that would be needed for canning fish on their private fleet of sailing ships. [3] Through a network of mobile transportation and seemingly boundless markets, the industry extracted salmon in extraordinary numbers out of Alaska and sent the canned fish to locales around the globe. With the local communities and older systems of exchange no longer necessary, power relations among Alutiit, Creoles, and Americans changed significantly in Aniakchak.

By 1900, commercial fish packers began to concentrate their primary fishing and canning activities in river systems located on the fringe of the central Peninsula—specifically, along the Ugashik River in Bristol Bay and the well-protected Chignik Lagoon on the Pacific. Like the Cold Bay oil claimants who moved beyond their Kanatak headquarters and into the hinterland of the central peninsula in search of petroleum pools, fish canners also sought new fishing grounds in coastal waters near the Aniakchak Crater.

Instead of failure and disappointment, the commercial fishing industry found success in the bays contouring Aniakchak's Bering Sea and Pacific coastlines—at least for awhile. The original commercial sites, the Ugashik and the Chignik fisheries, continue to be two of the largest sockeye or red salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) nurseries in the world. A subsidiary of the Chignik fishery, Aniakchak Bay, produced pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) in addition to sockeye. As the industry diversified its productivity after World War I, both species were harvested there. The men who worked the trap sites until they were closed in 1937 represent the largest group of non-Native immigrants to settle, albeit seasonally, on the central Alaska Peninsula to date. Unlike any other industry, the commercial fishing industry, with its legions of canneries and wage-paying jobs, managed to secure a lasting and influential role in the modern development of the forces that shaped the Aniakchak region in the twentieth century. As an Alaskan scholar noted, "Canneries transformed this entire area and represented the industrial revolution of the North." [4]

Salmon on drying rack for dog food, circa 1930s. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Salmon canneries, with their billowing smokestacks, pulsating machines and efficient fishing, processing, canning, and marketing methods, drastically altered the ecological world of the central Alaska Peninsula, especially in the years before World War II. Even before 1900, when fish packers began to use modern traps, they employed primitive fishing techniques that were equally destructive. They barricaded an entire stream with logs that forced the salmon to school where they would be easy to capture, preventing the fish from moving upriver to spawn. Additionally, waste was staggering in the early days. In the laissez-faire economic context of the time, natural resources were only considered "valuable" if they were converted into industrial and consumer products. The value of economic growth far outweighed the cost to the landscape and the resources it supported.

Ugashik River Bay, Ben Hanson saltery in foreground, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

By the 1920s, the canned salmon industry dominated Alaska's economy. During the decade after World War I, salmon fisheries surpassed mining as Alaska's major industry, as the Territory became the world's principal salmon producer. Despite industrial declines caused by depressed markets in the 1930s, by World War II, the salmon industry represented the largest investment of capital, the biggest annual financial yield, the greatest employment of labor, the largest single source of territorial revenue, and, as a result, was the dominant factor in Alaska's political, economic, and social life. [5] "Salmon and Alaska..." wrote Dr. Ernest Gruening in The State of Alaska, "...have been as closely intertwined as cotton and the South." [6]

Local Fisherman drying salmon near the Columbia River Packers Association (CPRA) cabin in Aniakchak Bay, 1973. Keith Trexler, photo, NPS.

Such an economic force affected Aniakchak's cultural landscape like nothing before. Without question, the Russians had introduced the Alutiit to new modes of economic production as well as new religious orientations, and the Alutiit effectively integrated those systems with traditional systems already familiar to them. But it is important to recognize that for many decades the Alutiit, who far outnumbered the Russians priests and promyshlennik, contributed directly to that social and economic exchange and transformed the new cultural world into one they eventually embraced and called their own. When the American system of modern capitalism began to dominate the economic and social constructs in the Aniakchak region, Alutiiq people found that familiar and traditional systems were not as easily integrated into this new American system as it had been with the Russian customs and practices.

From their perspective, the canners arrived at a fortuitous time. Because they were able to bring necessary, if limited, jobs to destitute fur hunters, it can be said that their arrival was fortunate for the Native population, as well. The involvement, however, by both Alutiiq men and women in the commercial canning process as "cannery workers" undermined the males' traditional role as "fishermen" and the females' role as "decision maker." The sheer number of newcomers with backgrounds from Asia, Europe, and America, re-shaped the cultural composition of the region. For the first time, non-Native immigrants, who sought wealth from the waters along the Alaska Peninsula, overshadowed and outnumbered the Alutiit and Creoles that lived there. [7] Canneries altered social organizations drastically, while alcohol caused new levels of dependency. Most significantly, canneries brought devastating diseases, particularly the Spanish Influenza pandemic, which caused high mortality and greatly disrupted indigenous populations across coastal Alaska. By 1920, a considerable population change had occurred, tipping the scale heavily in favor of Euroamericans.

With the older Russian-Alutiiq relationship diminishing, a new battle for Alaska's most lucrative resource began to take shape in the Aniakchak region. The new contest not only brought fresh players to the table, but it took competition for those resources outside of the ecological landscape and placed it into the political arena. In the world of politics, the fishing industry increased its influence beyond the Alaska Peninsula, across the Alaskan Territory, and all the way to Washington D.C. On the political landscape, a new three-way relationship replaced the older order. Competing for political control of Alaska's most lucrative resources were the fish companies, the Territory of Alaska, and the federal government. This triad eventually served to shape historical events, specifically Alaska's battle for statehood. In 1912, the Alaska Organic Act was passed, which provided the territory with a legislature and limited self-government, but it contained a provision specifically prohibiting the newly created territorial legislature from passing any laws that would "alter, amend, modify or repeal any federal laws relating to the fishers of Alaska." [8] Consequently, the federal government managed Alaska's salmon resource from the time America purchased Alaska in 1867 until January 1, 1960, one year after Alaska achieved statehood. By mid-century, a highly volatile political exchange between the salmon industry, the Alaskan territory, and the federal government began to take precedent on the Alaska Peninsula. The indigenous people were recognized as marginal players, if at all, on the political landscape.

By World War II, the Alutiiq people had assimilated into the capitalist, American system. Weakened by resource depletion, cultural displacement, and disease, the Alutiit had no recourse than to find jobs in canneries so they could provide for their families. Even in this time of massive cultural change, many Alutiit, as they did with their first encounters with the Russians, managed to hold onto many of their old ways, proving that assimilation was neither quick nor entirely complete. Within those first few decades of the twentieth century, however, the indigenous people of Aniakchak, like the salmon returning to the Alaska Peninsula's rivers, became ensnared in the web of modern America.

Salmon canneries in the Aniakchak area. By B. Bundy. (click on image for a PDF version)

Nature Shapes Culture on the Alaska Peninsula

In early July 1778, Captain James Cook was charting a bay, which he named after a friend, Augustus John Hervey III, Earl of Bristol, when he noticed a significant number of fish jumping around his vessel. In his log, Cook later wrote of Bristol Bay: "It must abound with salmon." [9] Indeed, from the beginning of commercial salmon fishing in America, the river estuaries of the Alaska Peninsula, particularly those in Bristol Bay, have been the largest producers of red—or sockeye—salmon in the world. [10]

Pilot Point Cannery, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

The Ugashik Cannery, ca. 1930s. Photograph courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Gust Griechen. National Park Service file H-2261.

Five species of Pacific salmon (members of the genus Oncorhynchus, meaning hook-nosed) spawn throughout the Alaska Peninsula's numerous freshwater rivers and lakes, but it is the sockeye salmon that return in such massive numbers. According to biologists for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), Bristol Bay returns three to sixty-three million fish a year, with significant run sizes also occurring in the Chignik drainage. [11]

In the Aniakchak region, sockeye salmon are born in the gravel beds of tributaries of the Ugashik Lakes, Chignik Lakes, even Surprise Lake, located inside the Aniakchak Caldera. Young sockeye, or alevins, hide in the river gravel and feed off the nutrients in their yolk sac for a period of about forty-five days, then emerge from the gravel sanctuary as fry. The fry spend at least one summer and one winter in their freshwater nursery, feeding on zooplankton and preparing for their journey out to sea. As the fry descend toward the open ocean, they undergo a physiological change called smoltification that allows the fish to survive in salt water. Ugashik Lakes smolts travel down the Ugashik River and enter into the silt-filled waters of Bristol Bay, while on the other side of the Peninsula, smolt from Surprise Lake descend the Aniakchak River. Chignik Lakes smolt swim into a large saltwater lake known as Chignik Lagoon, then into Chignik Bay where they enter the North Pacific Ocean.

Nearly all Alaskan sockeye will spend up to two years in the Pacific, following ocean currents that take them to the Gulf of Alaska where they feed on rich aquatic organisms and grow to adult size, anywhere from four to eight pounds. As May approaches, millions of sockeye begin to school, forming the "silver horde," and commence their migration back to their natal streams thousands of miles away. As they approach their home rivers, usually in the first weeks of June, the sockeye undergo another metamorphosis. When the fish enter freshwater they stop feeding, and begin to live off their body fat. As the fish travel upstream, their silvery bodies turn fire-engine red and their heads, a dark mossy green, while the males develop a humped back, a curved jaw, and enlarged hooked nose.

The salmon's spawning ritual is one of the most grotesque, yet beautiful, spectacles in nature. Historian Joseph Taylor III put it quite well when he noted: "As Pacific salmon mature sexually, they also fall apart." [12] Without nourishment, salmon become emaciated and exhausted, which make them easy targets for bald eagles, bears and other critters roaming the riverbanks. Along the grueling migration they can succumb to fungal infections that turn their flesh white with sores. Males, using their elongated canine teeth, will tear the skin off competing salmon, while females, in the process of digging their nests into the riverbed, may fray their tails to stumps of bare bone. [13]

The Columbia River Packing Company cannery in Chignik, 1912. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, THWAITES 247.279.

But on the verge of death, the salmon's one instinct is to create life. A spawning pair moves over the nest and together release a mix of milt and eggs into the gravel. They cover the eggs with loose rocks from the riverbed, and then repeat the process. The salmon will aggressively guard their mound of gravel, or redd, from other mating pairs or hungry rainbow trout, until they can no longer maneuver within the water. Spent, the fish die and, as their bodies decompose, they provide the nutrients for a new generation of sockeye salmon. [14]

About 5,000 years ago, this complex, anadromous life cycle of the salmon stabilized and became the foundation for life on the Alaska Peninsula's post-glacial landscape. Salmon runs moved tons of sediments downstream and helped stabilize river channels. Salmon also returned ocean-gathered nutrients to the glacially plowed soils. [15] Spawned-out salmon provided food for a wide variety of carnivores and other scavengers. Numerous studies reflect how salmon, consumed by bears, otters, eagles, ravens, and others, distributed nutrients throughout what was a nutrient-poor, volcanic landscape, and transformed it into thriving ecosystem. [16]

But as much as the salmon affected the natural environment, the natural environment impacted the salmon. As each generation of salmon returned home to spawn and die, their decomposing bodies left behind a nitrogen fingerprint in the sediment. In recent studies, researchers like Bruce Finney from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have measured the amount of the nitrogen fingerprint—isotope, N15—deposited in regional lake bottoms to determine the size of pre-historic sockeye salmon runs. From the nitrogen isotope in the sediment layers, Finney calculated the relative size of salmon runs over time. Markers, such as ash from known volcanic eruptions, helped the scientists affix a date to the layers. To his surprise, Finney discovered that over the last three hundred years, run sizes in Bristol Bay have varied considerably. Causing abrupt changes in the size of sockeye, according to the scientist, were large-scale climate shifts in the North Pacific Ocean, as indicated by sea surface temperature records and tree ring analysis. In general, sockeye runs were larger during periods of warm climates and smaller during cold periods. [17]

The dangerous trip to the Alaska Peninsula from San Francisco resulted in numerous shipwrecks, such as the St. Katherine, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Such fluctuations of the salmon runs not only affected lake and steam ecosystems, but they undoubtedly affected the human societies that were living there. In an environmental history of the Pacific Northwest fishery entitled Making Salmon, Taylor argues, "Most historians concentrate only on human impacts upon salmon, ignoring nature's impact on history." [18] This point is most definitely driven home on the Alaska Peninsula, for it is clear that nature has constantly shaped the fate of peninsula salmon, which, in turn, shaped the lives of the people who depended on them. As one fish writer eloquently describes, Homo sapiens and Onchorhynchus evolved together, "for they were re-colonizing the post-glacial barrens at the same time." [19]

Indeed, the salmon runs of the Alaska Peninsula provided nutrients not only to the land, but for the Alutiiq people as well. Salmon were by far the largest single source of protein in the Alutiiq diet. In ancestral time, families from all over the peninsula traveled to various streams to feast upon the returning salmon. Because the salmon run lasted only about six weeks, people afterward moved on to places where other resources existed. When humans developed the technology to preserve salmon so that it lasted throughout the winter, they were able to remain longer along the river. People began to meet together on a seasonal basis to communally capture the salmon, and as a result, social customs and organization began to take shape around the return of the sockeye. [20]

Over the centuries, the pursuit of salmon undoubtedly influenced Alutiiq culture. The establishment of divisions of labor illustrates this point. At communal sites known as fish camps, it was the men who usually caught the fish. Using technology that was potentially as effective as modern methods, men harvested large numbers of salmon with harpoons or nets with pumice-made floats, as well as V-shaped weirs made of wood or stone that they constructed across spawning streams. [21] While the men at a fish camp worked to catch salmon, the women used their expert knowledge to preserve the fish for the long months of winter.

Because fish are more susceptible to spoilage than other animal protein foods, methods of preservation were essential to the utilization of fish as food. "Fish," according to food historian Charles Cutting, "occupied a key position as one of the most easily accessible sources of protein food, and the spread of man himself was probably determined by the success of the techniques of preservation and storage employed." [22]

Tatiana Orloft stripping nets after the fishing season circa 1930s. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

In subsistence cultures in Alaska, including Alutiiq culture, the act of processing fish empowered women, and the "spread of man" was probably made possible through decisions made by a woman. According to archeologist Lisa Frink, who studied the role of female fish processors in western Alaska fish camps, the esteemed role women held within this society demonstrates that processing fish was an extremely skilled occupation in that it was highly managerial and particularly complex. Because fish processing and its winter storage were critical to most native communities, almost all Native women maintained important decision-making positions, and these positions have continued to the present day. [23]

Traditionally, cutting fish is a learned talent, requiring technical prowess and skillfully made choices. It required fish processors to know about the properties of different species of fish, the conditions of the fish at the time of capture, the effect of weather and insects on processing, and the productive capacity of the laborers available. In her study, Frink notes, "These were all crucial management factors and decisions negotiated and made by women." [24] Moreover, processing knowledge was taught, learned and passed down, as grandmothers, mothers, and daughters usually cut fish together. As a result, elder women were, and still are, active managers of the fish camp operation. Not only did they control the daily allocation of foodstuffs, but the food caches were "owned" and managed by an extended family's female elders, who "decided what is to be eaten and when." [25] In the fish camp corporation, women maintained processing, managerial, and ownership roles.

Salmon served as more than just food or as a social organizing force, for they were also living spirits who shared the river, and ultimately themselves, with the people who caught them. "To the first peoples of the North Pacific," observed fish author and activist Tom Jay, "salmon was not merely food, it was energy. It was not energy in our sense of BTU's or calories, but was what William Blake meant when he said energy is eternal delight." [26] Alutiiq people interpreted this "energy" as the sua, and were very careful to respect the spirits of the fish. In some instances, fish intestines were customarily returned to the water because these parts were the home of the animal's soul. The first fish caught each year was eaten entirely except for the gall bladder and the gills. If anything was wasted, it was believed the fish would not return. [27]

1939 cannery crew leaving Pilot Point on a barge to a ship waiting at the anchorage below Pilot Point. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Maintaining a spiritual relationship with the salmon by no means made the ancient Alutiit proverbial "children of nature." [28] Although the Alutiiq people lived very much within nature, they also intentionally shaped and managed it. Alutiit were experienced, rational fishers, and throughout long periods of trial and error, or when the climate changed and salmon runs declined, they developed a cultural mechanism that controlled abuses such as over-fishing or heavy consumption. Their spiritual relationship with salmon was pragmatic, rather than romantic, and their response to runs constantly fluctuated due to either human or natural causes. [29] Primarily because the Russians came for furs not fish, runs were not over-harvested during the fur trade, and, therefore, the Alutiit managed to maintain a relationship with the salmon in which culture and environment continued to shape each other reciprocally. Not only was this view of the salmon held by the Alutiiq people, it is held by most Alaska Natives.

When American capitalists first began to exploit Alaska's salmon runs in 1878, according to Finney, high nitrogen values in lake sediments indicate that sockeye salmon numbers were high at this point in time. [30]

In other words, commercial fishers sailed into the peninsula's rivers under good climatic conditions.

Bristol Bay sailing fleet, Alaska State Library Collection, Michael Z. Vinokouroff Photograph Collection, ca. 1880s-1970s, P243-2-143.

Commercializing the Pursuit of Salmon: 1878-1893

The establishment of canneries on the central portion of the Alaska Peninsula was part of a larger pattern of commercialized salmon packing that was occurring throughout Alaska and the Pacific Slope. The first salmon canneries were built along the Sacramento and the Columbia rivers after the Civil War, but as the combination of over-fishing, intensive mining, and timber activity depleted the salmon resources in those rivers, canners moved north. [31] In 1878, fish packers opened the first canneries in southeastern Alaska, and, by 1882, they had established the first cannery in Central Alaska. Two years later, canners were packing fish in the remote reaches of Bristol Bay. Amazing tales of "red gold" trickled from the north. Suddenly the rush to establish other canneries began, and the era of commercial exploitation of the salmon resource in Alaska was on.

Bristol Bay sail boats, ca. 1920s. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Once these fish entrepreneurs reached the unforgiving Alaskan shore, reality soon replaced rumor. Alaska's brief fishing season had a marked effect upon employment, capital needs, and the marketing system. [32] It drove up operating costs and forced canners to place a premium on accurate planning. Immediately after the end of the fishing season, canners began to plan for the next season. This meant cannery operators had to forecast the probable size of the runs and correlate a budget with the estimated pack for each of their canneries. Nearly all expenses, including labor, had to be funded before the season began. If runs failed or canneries were unable to put up the pack, cannery owners sustained heavy financial losses, usually causing bankruptcy.

In these early days of salmon canning, the industry struggled simply to survive, for the vast natural landscape challenged canners at every turn. From the beginning of the commercial era, the main outfitting, employment, and financial centers for the Alaska salmon industry developed outside of the territory, primarily in San Francisco and Seattle. Maintaining a successful operation in the North was about as easy as NASA putting a man on the moon in 1968. [33] It took the square-riggers several months of constant danger to sail to Alaska and even longer to transport the canned product to East Coast markers. Shipwrecks that caused loss in terms of both people and product were commonplace.

Still, the salmon canning industry remained appealing despite the severe challenges posed by the immense and volatile natural landscape. Transportation, labor and dependency on run size may have been something of a gamble, but the actual construction of a cannery was relatively cheap. As historian Richard Cooley describes, "Canneries were simple, inexpensive handicraft units, offering an ideal activity for the enterprising individual of limited means who was willing to pioneer a new venture in a new territory." [34] When one company prospected an area, established a cannery near good fishing grounds, and turned a profit in its initial seasons, other operators rushed in and established their own canneries. The early history of cannery operations is a story of over-expansion and rapid investment in what American entrepreneurs called the new frontier.

Children often participated in cannery life. Darryl Seybert and Andrew Abyo, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

The sheer grandness of Alaska's rivers and fish led canners to believe that the territory's resources were inexhaustible. With fish traps sometimes lined across entire rivers before 1889, [35] the fish resources quickly collapsed, reducing annual catches and cannery profits. The situation was further aggravated by unstable market conditions. The salmon rush caused market gluts, which resulted in lower prices. In his landmark study Politics and Conservation: The Decline of the Alaska Salmon, Cooley observes that this pattern of exploitation "was the logical outgrowth of a free fishery in a free competitive economy." The ruthless competition that dominated the industry before the turn of the century hinged upon the desire for both maximum cannery packs and elimination of rival businesses. [36]

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, a movement to unify control of production and marketing emerged. Cooperative working agreements between a limited number of individual cannery owners formed the first attempts to consolidate the fishery, and, by 1895, almost all the operators on the central Alaska Peninsula were included in the agreement. Marketing pools, quotas for individual plants, and complete closure of many plants characterized the working agreements. The Alaska Packing Association, an outgrowth of this early movement, was formed in 1892 and incorporated into the Alaska Packers Association (APA) in 1893.

Essentially a profit-sharing organization, APA started with thirty-one canneries, only nine of which continued to operate after 1893. APA gave each cannery owner shares in the pool. The number of shares given to each operator was in proportion to the size of his pack of the previous year. [37] By 1900, APA controlled seventy percent of the industry, but, by then, the market had stabilized and the total pack was more than two million cases, annually, a value of nearly $10 million. [38] In the years after 1900, the salmon industry began to look much different. No longer considered a "frontier industry," commercial salmon canning was now the backbone of Alaska's economy. [39] It was during this period of commercialization that canners came to the Aniakchak region.

Encounters with Japanese fishers at the turn of the 20th century linked the central Alaska Peninsula once again with Asia. For example photographed here are Pilot Point resident Joe Odas's relatives in Kobe Japan. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.



Before canning corporations entered the fray, fish packers salted and stored their salmon catch in barrels. The business of salting salmon was a standard practice for the Russians, who used the product as an exchange item in the local fur trade. [40] The practice was adopted by the Alaska Commercial Company after 1867. In 1880, Petroff, whose tasks as U.S. census taker included the identification of new resources and possible avenues for U.S. commerce, [41] noted that "The salmon family, the greatest feeder of all the Alaskan people, frequents in astonishing numbers in the Nushagak and other streams emptying into Bristol Bay...American fishermen [mostly Alaska Commercial Company traders] have for some years been engaged here every season in reaping a rich harvest and shipping the fish, salted in barrels, to market." [42] Twenty years later, an inspector for the U.S. Fish Commission, Jefferson Moser, noted that Petroff's observations did much to motivate this early salting industry. The census taker not only encouraged a small "saltery" rush southward to the Ugashik, but Petroff also emphasized the potential for commercializing fish processing in Bristol Bay. [43]

Less than ten years after Petroff's report was published, several small salting outfitters settled near the Alaska Commercial Company's post and the two Native villages—Agishik (Pilot Point) and Oogashik (Ugashik)—and began to commercially salt salmon for the first time on the Ugashik River. C.A. Johnson was the first salmon pioneer on the river, building and operating what was known as the "Johnson Saltery," located two miles down river from the Alaska Commercial Company's post, in 1889. [44] In 1891, Johnson sold his operation to the Bering Sea Packing Company, which built a second saltery on the right bank of the Ugashik River, near Pilot Station. [45] Two years later, Charles Nelson established a saltery near Johnson's original site.

The Ugashik, like most rivers in Bristol Bay, is what early fish entrepreneurs described as a "redfish river." As Moser observed, "It [the Ugashik River estuary] is a wonderful salmon country, and can not be equaled." [46] The early fish packers quickly profited from the hundreds of thousand of sockeye salmon returning each summer to spawn on the shores of the river's headwaters, the Ugashik Lakes. "The facilities for building traps and weirs are also extraordinary," noted one optimistic fishery observer, "and hundreds of barrels have been filled with a single clean up of a trap." [47] Yet at the time, observers noted that these undersized fish packers were too small to fully exploit the Ugashik run. As Petroff lamented, "The only drawback to this business is the short period over which the run extends, necessitating the employment of a very large number of hands while it lasts." [48] When such potential for profit reached the ears of corporate interests in San Francisco, the more expensive and elaborate, but more profitable, canning process quickly rivaled and eventually replaced salting as the dominant method for salmon processing on the Ugashik River.

Peughing fish into truck, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.


In 1893, the newly formed corporate giant, Alaska Packers Association, established a saltery not far from the Bering Sea Packing site. By 1895, Johnson, Nelson, and even the Bering Sea Packing Company, had sold or merged their interests with the Alaska Packers. [49] The Association filed hundreds of homestead claims around Bristol Bay, shrewdly encompassing all the freshwater creeks where any potential competitors might build. With its many new additions, including the Ugashik sites, APA had become by far the biggest fish packing organization on the Pacific Coast. [50]

That same 1895 season, Alaska Packers built a cannery on the right bank of the river, immediately above Pilot Station, which the company renamed the Ugashik Fishing Station. [51] "To support its far-flung operations," notes historian Amos Burg, "everything had to be transported to remote canneries by ship—construction supplies, food, fuel, tools, canning supplies, fishing boats, fishermen and hundreds of hard working, dependable Chinese cannery workers." [52] At the time, APA's Ugashik Fishing Station was the largest industrial facility to be established in the Aniakchak region. It made its first pack in 1896, and, after 1903, the canning lines were fully mechanized. At the peak of the season, the Ugashik Fishing Station had the capacity of producing 2,400 cases of canned salmon per day. [53]

In 1900, a company organized by the stockholders of the Naknek Packing Company sent a cannery outfit to the Ugashik and established the Bristol Packing Company (later known as the Red Salmon Canning Company) near the site of the recently defunct trading post of the Alaska Commercial Company. [54] At first, this new company paled in comparison with the productive output of the Alaska Packers Association, but within a decade, these two companies maintained a healthy rivalry that jockeyed for fishing position on the river. [55] In 1901, APA built a second cannery fifteen miles above their main cannery at Pilot Point; however, it operated only until 1906, and was later dismantled. [56]

While fish packers were establishing canneries on the Ugashik River, they also began to cast their eyes on the Pacific coast of the central Alaska Peninsula. In 1888, the Fishermen's Packing Company of Astoria, Oregon, sent a reconnaissance party to Chignik Bay in search of salmon. They returned home with 2,160 barrels of salted salmon. The following year the fishing company returned to Chignik with tin plate, solder, salt, and cases and built a cannery on the east side of Chignik Lagoon, 2.5 miles from its entrance to the Pacific Ocean. [57] By 1892, two other canneries moved into the area. That year the three canneries consolidated into one, which operated under the patronage of the Alaska Packers Association in 1893. [58]

The Alaska Packers cook standing in front of the mess hall at Pilot Point, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Salmon canners employed various methods to obtain fish. Fishing gear, ranging from nets to traps, depended on the type of environment in which the cannery was located. On the Ugashik, for instance, the river's strong currents, narrow channels, and the discolored water made gillnetting the choice of fishing methods. Gillnet fishermen employed by the canneries, conducted most of the salmon harvests. To catch reds, fishermen used a net seventy-five to eighty fathoms long, with twenty to twenty-six meshes, each 6-1/8 to 6-1/4 inches stretched. [59] A lead line ran along the bottom, a wooden cork line floated along the top, while the mesh of the net was big enough to let the head of the salmon go through but not his body, catching the gills in the twine strands. [60]

Ugashik fishermen fished from 25-foot to 32-foot-long Columbia River double-enders. The vessels were an oar- and sail-powered craft that maintained a carrying capacity of 1,400 sockeye salmon. While drifting, the boat was pulled stern-first through the water as the net filled with fish. A seaworthy design with a fine bow and stern entrance allowed the sailboat to stay with the net regardless of how rough the waves got. Referred to simply as "salmon boats," the double-enders superbly adapted to the work of gillnet fishing and the conditions of the choppy Ugashik River. Because the double-ender sailboat specialized specifically to catch a Pacific prey, it is recognized as one of the few work-boat designs to originate on the West Coast. [61]

Mike Joseph and Andrew Abyo at Pilot Point, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Two men formed the double-enders gillnet crew. One set the net, while the other pulled, or steered, the boat. When the wind blew, as it most often does in the Bay, the fishermen raised the mast and the three-cornered canvas sail powered the boat into the channels at the river's mouth. If the morning breeze failed to blow, then the men had to use the oars. The crew worked the tides, and when the fish ran strong, they remained near the cannery. When the run slackened, they drifted as far as fifteen to twenty miles away. When the net started to jerk, the gillnetter knew the net was heavy with fish. The two men pulled the net in over the stern and began to pick the fish entangled in the web with practiced hands, aided by a small handy hook. [62]

According to nautical historians Ralph Andrews and A.K. Larssen, who together wrote the book Fish and Ships, "The Bristol Bay gillnetters never had it easy." [63] The fishermen slept on their boat under the tented bow. They rose at three a.m. and only had what they called a Swede stove to cook their food and warm their coffee. In 1900, a crew received two cents each for every sockeye salmon and ten cents shared between them for the less plentiful king salmon, if the cannery was taking kings. Fishermen delivered their catch to a company tender, which rallied and transported the salmon to the cannery. [64]

In 1922, the Santa Flavia, a floating processor for the International Packing Co., entered Bristol Bay and unleashed a small fleet of engine-powered boats that employed a far more efficient purse seine (a net that encircled the schooling fish and scooped them with an action similar to tightening a purse string) near the Ugashik River, directly challenging the sailboat fleet. Not surprisingly, the fishermen in motored boats easily intercepted salmon attempting to return to the river's headwaters. In response, the politically influential Alaska Packers Association lobbied Congress to ban floating processors, purse seiners, and powerboats in the bay. Legislators felt banning processors was too blatantly self-serving for APA, but Congress did eventually pass a bill prohibiting engine-run fishing boats, a law that would stand until 1954. According to local legend, a powerful cannery boss with a fleet of thirty-two-foot boats flexed his political muscle and tacked a length limit of thirty-two feet onto the bill, a vessel-length limit which remains to this day in Bristol Bay. [65]

On the Pacific side of the peninsula, a fleet of gill netters and purse seiners harvested salmon for its Chignik cannery during the first few years of the commercial fishery. In four years, the APA plant averaged well over 50,000 cases per year. Still, fishing the shallow, murky waters of Chignik Lagoon proved difficult. During the mid-to late 1890s, APA increasingly came to rely on pile traps, fixed fishing gear which beach gang crews literally pounded into the muddy bottom of the lagoon. Canners favored these "pound nets," as they were originally called, because they were efficient and relatively inexpensive to operate. [66]

Chignik Lagoon pile traps were large rectangular wooden structures approximately thirty-five to forty feet long with 1,200-foot leads. Although operation of a pile trap was relatively cheap, constructing them was expensive and complex. Canneries employed a machine called a pile driver with a sixty-foot hammer that could pound sixty-five foot timbers ten feet into the mud. Once built, operation of the pile trap was quite simple. First, the "lead," a line of piling driven ten feet apart and hung with chicken wire, literally led the migrating salmon from the shoreline into an enclosed V-shaped "heart." From the heart, salmon swam into a twenty-five-foot narrow, web-enclosed tunnel that led the fish into a pot where they were penned until high tide spilled them into the "spiller." Then, a "jigger" or "apron" closed, trapping the salmon. Once in the spiller, the fish remained alive until tender crews "brailed" the silver horde into their holds, and transported the catch to the on-shore canneries. [67]

Old-timers at Pilot Point cannery, John Struck, Joe Oda, Brown, and an unidentified man, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Although they employed different fishing methods, whether a cannery was built on the Ugashik or at Chignik, most canning facilities had basically uniform construction. The complex at the APA Ugashik Fishing Station is representative. It consisted of long narrow structures lined with large, rectangular windows that, according to federal inspectors, allowed in an adequate amount of light and ventilation for the cannery crews. Built upon pilings pounded into the shoreline, the dock and most of the processing area protruded out over the river so that tenders and fish scows could easily deliver their load. At the same time, fish heads, tails, fins, and entrails—parts of the fish that did not get canned—could easily be discarded in the rising tides.

All canneries maintained a building called the "fish house," which held the freshly caught fish in large bins. In 1900, cleaning crews still prepared the fish by hand, after which they sent the raw fish by conveyor belt to another building called the "cannery." The cannery was usually a long, relatively narrow, building that accommodated the canning line. The canning line was literally a line of machinery introduced in the 1880s, where empty cans could travel the length of the building uninterrupted, and come out at the end, filled with salmon. [68] At the turn of the century, the Ugashik canning equipment included two sets of can-making machines that quickly replenished the cannery's stock of cans. It included, as well, a cutter machine, or gang knife, that operated by a hand lever, and cut the salmon into steaks; three filler machines that automatically filled the cans with salmon and salt pieces; three clincher machines and two solder machines that, together, attached the lids onto the tin cans; and seven retorts that pressure cooked the canned salmon. [69]

Clarice Seybert (Orin's mother), date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Technologically speaking, the Ugashik cannery was on the cutting edge of cannery innovation. [70] But as historian Duncan A. Stacey points out, "Sustaining technological change. . .is not simply a matter of importing new machines or processes." As he suggests in his study Sockeye & Tinplate: Technological Change in the Fraser River Canning Industry, 1871-1912, "If technology is to be successfully implanted in new territory, many aspects of the new setting, ranging from market opportunities to the essential back-up skills in a wide arc of support functions, must be favorable." Such conditions, according to Stacey, include: a surplus of the resource, a technology to develop the resource to the level of an exportable surplus, a source of capital, and a marker. [71] In 1900, canning facilities on the central Alaska Peninsula had begun to meet all of these conditions.

The industrial machines, as well as the canning methods employed, made it much easier to exploit the massive salmon runs in a short period of time, but the process was not nearly as efficient as pre-contact fish preservation methods. In these early years of the industry, the new technology remained in experimental stages, which resulted in a horrific amount of biological waste. The washing and cleaning of fish remained one section of the canning line that still presented a serious bottleneck in the canning process, a problem that was not resolved until the introduction of butchering machines between 1903 and 1906. [72] As a result, cannery workers had the nearly impossible task of cleaning fish as fast as tenders were unloading them. In 1900, Moser observed, "In front of every cannery in this district, and along the beaches for several miles, thousand of dead fish are seen. The investigator called such decay a "testimony to the enormous waste during a canning season." [73] In many instances, neither men nor machine could process the large volumes of over-caught fish before it spoiled in the fish bins. The occasional warm weather during the summer months was also a culprit. Moser noted that waste not only occurred from holding the fish until they were unfit to pack, but wasteful practices "runs through the whole process, from the time the fish are captured until the last tapping test is made." [74]

Canneries squandered salmon in multiple ways. Many salmon were lost in passing the fish from fishing boats to the receiving tenders; others were lost in "pewing," as a cannery worker pitched the fish with a long steel hook from the tenders into the fish house. But the most distasteful source of environmental waste concerned the king salmon, what many thought to be the "finest salmon that swims the Pacific waters." [75]

Because the Bristol Bay fishery was driven by markets demanding sockeye salmon, if fishermen caught any of the remaining species of salmon, then the fish was considered a by-product. When canners received the Chinook, or king salmon, (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) from their fishermen, superintendents instructed cannery workers to cut out bellies of the kings and salt them for private use, while the remainder of the fish—usually thirty to forty pounds of meat—was thrown away. As Moser remarked, "Great, beautiful fishes, weighing from twenty-five to forty pounds, from which the bellies had been removed, were seen at several places lying on the beach, to be carried away by the tide or consumed by the birds." [76] Surely, the Alutiiq fisherman who observed such a scene would have believed those fish had been offended by deep disrespect, and would never return again.

By the turn of the century, the new economic rules had significantly altered the traditional relationship between human consumers and the salmon in the Aniakchak region. [77] Although at times local environmental constraints limited commercial fishers, for the most part, any indication of a reciprocal relationship between the human and nature was gone. Capitalism was the now the single most important force driving activities that affected the salmon. Whereas Alutiiq fishers harvested for local use, and technology, population size, and cultural beliefs collectively resulted in moderate catches, the industry fishers had considerably fewer cultural or economic limits, and profligacy plagued the commercial fishery.

By all accounts, it appeared as though the canners were driven by greed and employed a flotilla of fishermen to catch as many salmon as they could, but as sociologist M. Patricia Marchak suggests, "The history of over-fishing is more complicated than a simple take of too many fishes." [78] Likewise, Arthur F. McEvoy in his study of the California fishery argues that it was not so much greed driving the industry, but competition. In his landmark book The Fisherman's Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850-1980, McEvoy addresses the issue:

... [Over-fishing occurs] primarily because fishery stocks are "common property" resources; that is, although many different individuals or firms may compete with each other for fish, no one of them owns the resource so as to keep others away from it. As a result, everyone has an incentive to keep fishing so long as there is any money to be made in the effort, whereas no one has an individual incentive to refrain from fishing so as to conserve the stock. Every harvester knows that if he or she leaves a fish in the water someone else will get it, and the profit, instead. This is what economists call "the fisherman's problem": In a competitive economy, no marker mechanism ordinarily exists to reward individual forbearance in the use of shared resources. [79]

Competition by fishers, then, was a consequence of the structure of the capitalistic marker. At the time, the government refused to restrict economic activity. Thus, canneries had to increase production and reduce costs to remain competitive in a laissez-faire market, and fishers had to catch more fish to offset falling wages and quotes. Without restriction on participation or harvest, cutthroat practices were almost inevitable. [80]

This was exactly the situation that developed in Chignik Lagoon. Just as canners introduced an efficient method of catching fish—the trap—to the fishery, two new fish companies entered the fray and, as historian Frank Norris points out, "the combined efforts of those companies began to test the ecological limits of the resource." [81] In 1896, the Hume Brothers and Hume Company and the Pacific Steam Whaling Company constructed new canneries along the shores of the lagoon, and by the following summer, twenty-three traps had been set in the lagoon. In 1897, while investigating the Chignik fishery, Moser described the stationary traps as "barricades", and in 1900, he described the lagoon as "studded with traps." [82] Canners, denying that their traps restricted salmon from migrating upriver, continued to pound a high number of traps in the lagoon. This resulted in more government warnings against over-fishing. In 1900, agent Howard Kurchin reported that those catching the fish knew the traps would eventually decimate the fishery, for "many of the best informed fishermen give the fishery but a brief lease of life, some putting the limit as low as ten years." [83]

Low fish returns in 1904 proved such warnings true, and that year the Hume Bros. cannery was forced to close. [84] Competition for trap space, coupled with declining runs, prevented new operators from moving into the Chignik Lagoon. In 1911, the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA) constructed a cannery just outside of the lagoon at the head of Anchorage Bay. As Norris notes, the company staked a few traps in the lagoon, "but unlike its competitors it chose to diversify its trap sites." [85] By 1913, CRPA had established a trap in Hook Bay, the first trap site located beyond the lagoon.

The following year, CRPA entered into a communal contract with the two remaining Chignik operators: the Alaska Packers Association, and the Northwestern Fisheries Company, formerly known as the Pacific Steam Whaling Company. [86] This contract provided that the three companies would equally share the total catch. Renewed each year until 1930, the Chignik Fishing contracts gave the three companies a monopoly of the fishery for twenty years. [87] This self-regulatory agreement gave canners the security to remove two-thirds of the traps from the lagoon. With their elimination, a sense of stability emerged in the Chignik fishery. [88]

Still, equal catch totals did not necessarily mean equal territory. Considered the "new kid on the block," Columbia River Packers Association was pushed out of the lagoon. According to contract provisions, the two oldest packers in the Chignik area—Northwestern Fisheries Company and the Alaska Packers Association—retained their trap locations in the area. CRPA, on the other hand, decided to prospect new trap sites. Attracting the Oregon fish packing company was the only other large salmon stream on the Pacific Coast between Chignik Lagoon and the Katmai country, the twenty-five-mile-long Aniakchak River. [89]

Aniakchak Bay Historic Landscape District. By B. Bundy. (click on image for a PDF version)

Canneries Create a New Cultural Landscape On the Central Alaska Peninsula

As the canned salmon industry sprawled along both sides of the Alaska Peninsula from 1897 onward, industrialization became a doubled edge sword for Native peoples living in the Aniakchak region. Throughout the fur trade era, from the Russian to the early American period, the Alutiiq people had proven that they could adapt to and recover from both environmental and cultural change—even catastrophic change. But the commercial fishing industry relied on a system that depended on outside rather than local forces, and neither Native residents nor their exchange practices affected decisions made by the canners. If they did, those practices were manipulated to the advantage of the canner. By contrast, the cannery system drastically affected the Aniakchak region in terms of increasing ethnic diversity, movement of local settlements, wage-paying jobs, systems of credit, disease, and ultimately, change in the reciprocal relationship between Alutiiq people and the salmon. As ethnographer James Vanstone suggests, "Of all the agents of change. . .none had a greater or more lasting effect on the [Alaska Peninsula] region than the commercial fishing industry." [90]

In recent studies, some historians have suggested that the advent of commercial fishing resuscitated Native cultures and probably "saved the lives of many local residents who were suffering from the declining fur trade." As Merry Tuten remarks in her ethnographic study of the Aniakchak coast, "The canneries arrived just in time to replace the faltering marine mammal activities." [91] As early as 1900, Moser observed that for those people living in the "small villages scattered along the islands and hidden in numerous bays"—people who used to rely on the trade of sea otter pelts—"cod and salmon fisheries have become important." [92] In the early years of commercial canning, however, the industry was, at best, a mixed blessing. Although evidence of starvation existed throughout the peninsula as the fur trade came to and end, until 1898 when Congress made it illegal to completely barricade a river or steam, fishing methods by the commercial fishers severely impacted traditional means of acquiring the region's most significant food source.

Moreover, although it is true that the canneries arrived just as the fur trade was collapsing, they did not employ the local people immediately. One might think that canneries would have hired local people living in Chignik or on the Ugashik River to either catch or process the salmon—activities the indigenous people in those areas knew well. Instead, employment in the canneries came slowly for most Natives. Salmon prices were far lower than the price of a sea otter pelt and it took some time before either canners or local residents themselves believed they should be working for canneries.

Indeed, hiring records reflect such attitudes. The Ugashik Fishing Station hired a mix of twenty European and American workers in 1889, but no Natives. A year later, twenty Natives were hired to assist 140 Chinese workers in the Fish House. [93] A decade later, a few Alutiit were hired to process fish, but were still excluded from fishing and fish trapping jobs. [94] Chignik followed similar, if not worse, hiring patterns. Many canners complained that Native laborers would work only as long as needed to secure a few possessions, then abruptly quit and return to their more traditional hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering activities. [95] Even Moser reasoned, "Why should he work? Hunger no longer worries him, his immediate wants are satisfied, and he has no others!" [96]

Like the wood to construct their buildings and the machines to can their fish, the canners imported a workforce to clean and process the salmon. And, because canning salmon demanded a huge labor supply, the commercial fishing industry attracted the first large-scale migration of non-Natives to the Alaska Peninsula. And, although most Alutiit were not working for the canneries, the industry still brought them into firsthand contact with many different races and nationalities. [97] Russian population numbers are a good example. The largest number of Russians ever in America at one time was a mere 823. [98] In 1890, there were 8,000 non-Natives in Alaska. [99] At one Bristol Bay cannery alone, canners employed three hundred Chinese shore-workers. By 1909, there were 1,069 Chinese working just in western Alaska. [100] Such cultural diversity caught the attention of a writer for Alaska Life in 1947:

So it is that the cannery operation is composed of a diverse program of occupations. Equally as diverse are the racial types: From the Scandinavian fishermen to the Alaska natives, Indians and Eskimo, to the Filipino, there is a mixture of race, background, cultural standards, and technical skill. [101]

And, as with many late nineteenth-century American businesses, the canneries treated these workers of various backgrounds differently. In the cannery pecking order, the highest paid were the Scandinavian fishermen, or the "white crew." The Italian and Greek fishermen, or "dagos," as they were called, were paid less for basically the same work. For cannery work such as soldering the tins, cleaning the fish, and packing the cans, Chinese laborers (and later Japanese and Filipino), hired in San Francisco or Seattle and sailed north for the summer, were paid the least. [102]

The sheer number of ethnically diverse newcomers to the region directly shaped the cultural composition of Aniakchak. For the first time, non-Native immigrants, who sought wealth in the waters along the Alaska Peninsula, overshadowed the Alutiit and Creoles that lived there. [103]

Anti-Chinese attitudes originating in West Coast locales forced some canners to hire more Natives to process salmon in the Alaska canneries. Beginning in the mid-1850s, a steady flow of approximately 5,000 Chinese men per year migrated to the United States, most of them to places such as San Francisco, Astoria, and Seattle. In 1868, the United States negotiated the Burlingame Treaty with China, which, as one of its stipulations, provided cheap labor for railroad construction crews. Thereafter, the annual influx of Chinese immigrants more than doubled. When the transcontinental railroads were completed, many Chinese laborers gained work in West Coast salmon canneries, and by the mid-1880s, they formed the basis of fish processing work from Astoria, Oregon to Bristol Bay, Alaska. [104]

Not surprisingly, canners embraced the cheap and efficient labor of the Chinese workers. Canners described these men as maintaining feminine qualities, for they were "short, relatively hairless, and required less food to maintain them than white men." [105] But in other areas of American industry, Chinese workers began to compete more with Euroamerican workers and resentment grew. When immigration numbers reached nearly 40,000 in 1882, protests hit such a peak that Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited all Chinese immigration for ten years. In 1992, Congress renewed the legislation, extending the ban indefinitely.

Responding to the new laws, fish packing corporations like APA began to experiment with new technology. The so-called "Iron Chink" was invented to replace the dwindling human workers for which the machine was unapologetically named. [106] In spite of advancements in canning equipment, fish packers still needed a balance of men and machines to fully exploit the salmon runs. As a result, hiring contractors for the Alaska Packers Association introduced non-Chinese workers on a large scale for the first time in 1905, and retained only the most essential Chinese employees. [107] Many of these new workers were of Japanese heritage, while others were European Americans living in the vicinity of the canneries, or were immigrants from abroad. [108] Another new entrant into the cannery workplace, although remaining at the bottom of the labor tier, were Alaska Natives.

Cannery life was an entirely different world than the Alutiit life along the river at fish camp. The industrialized plant was generally dreary, damp and noisy. Belts whined, flywheels whirled and narrow pipes dropping from overhead brought a ceaseless stream of cold water to the work stalls. Alutiiq men and women worked in long rows as "slitters" and "washers," while they shifted from foot to aching foot at their slimy benches working methodically to the point of exhaustion. Steam and odorous fumes mingled with the stench of raw fish. The sound of clattering cans and the clanking of soldering machines pounded on the workers nerves. Accidents occurred with increased frequency, as fatigue prompted carelessness. [109]

Because cleaning fish was considered women's work, such conditions belied the identity of Alutiiq men, the traditional fishermen. As canneries became more mechanized, Alutiiq women moved from important decision-making roles to the lowest participants in the cannery organizational structure. In her book, Cheap Wage Labour: Race and Gender in the Fisheries of British Columbia, sociologist Alizja Muszynski contends that the level of power for female Native fish processors decreased with industrialization. With the transplant of an American maritime society to Alaskan coastal and riverine regions, fishermen—not processors—became the face of the industry—the frontier heroes or cowboys of the North. Muszynski suggests that the strong connection between fishing and masculine pursuits found in Western literary culture played a central role in devaluing the position of the fish processor, a role that traditional culture held in esteem. American fish stories, after all, center on "the one that got away," and rarely mentioned the not-so-romantic cleaners and preparers of fish.

Even though preparing fish for market is arguably the most important step in the commercial canning operation, when the factory system replaced the fish camp as the main center of economic activity on most Alaskan salmon streams, the job was reduced in community stature. Muszynski convincingly points out that decreasing the value of labor legitimized lower wages paid to cannery workers, regardless of the overall value of the product. [110] This is, in part, the reason why canners, who hired Chinese men to clean fish in the early days of the industry, referred to their Asian workers as a "feminine race." [111]

Yet, as with the Russians, the Alutiiq people did their best to respond to the new economic reality. Prospects that this new industry would replace the dwindling fur trade attracted Native residents from all Alaska, who eventually settled near both the Ugashik and Chignik canneries. As mentioned in a previous chapter, in 1910, a group of Inupiaq from the Seward Peninsula seeking cannery jobs migrated to the Alaska Peninsula, where they carved out a life among the mixed Alutiiq/Euroamerican population. [112] Similarly, in 1898, the local priest noted, "The residents of Agishek are all Aleuts who have moved from Ugashek since construction of the canneries here." Not only did cannery jobs spawn new settlements, but the canneries also supplied building materials, albeit involuntarily, to the community. Again, the priest observed:

Last fall high water from the sea washed many boards from shore at the cannery. The residents at Agishek recaptured part of them and used them to build a small house on the site where last year I celebrated the liturgy in a church tent and where the cross stood. [113]

In fact, the Alutiit even managed to resurrect familiar practices of exchange by developing a kind of underground barter system with the exotic cannery workers. Chignik resident, August Pedersen, remembered selling bear feet and bear gall bladders to the Chinese workers in exchange for leftover food from the cannery's mess hall at the end of the summer:

My old man [Marius "Pete" Pedersen] used to cure the skins. Fix them all, stretch them all, and he'd give'em to some friends. He used to give the Chinamen the feet and the gall. They used it for medicines, and in the fall, they would be pretty decent, them years, you packed live animals. Pigs. They'd give you a pig, a live pig. Maybe old canned salmon. They'd give you them "dents" they called it, ten, fifteen cases, though, and maybe a couple hundred pounds of rice. [114]

This type of exchange was also conducted between Alutiiq fishermen and the canneries. But, unlike the fur trade where power was relatively balanced, in the fishing industry, it was the canners who called the shots. Since the industry's advent in 1895, canners generally omitted Natives from their payroll. However, many canners still purchased fish "under the table" from Native fisherman. This was done not so much for philanthropic reasons, but rather because each cannery was allotted a quota of between four and five boats per line of machinery operated. This meant that a cannery boss could purchase fish from a Native fisherman, and in turn, add to his total pack without adding the Native fishermen to either his quota or his payroll. [115]

In a 1925 report to the industry, Fish Commissioner Frank O'Malley brought attention to the fact that canners had been buying fish from Native boats in both the Ugashik and Egegik Rivers for some time. Although O'Malley discouraged the industry from outfitting Native boats, the Commissioner stated that he would not interfere with the methods pursued by the industry in buying fish from Native fishermen because he realized that "this was their only means of livelihood during the fishing season." [116]

The Fish Commissioner, however, outlined a few stipulations. First, he made it clear that a "Native" meant an indigenous Alaskan (and probably Russian Creole) and not a winterman or a local trapper, and warned the industry against transferring Natives from one fishing district to another as canners commonly did with their seasonal fishermen. Moreover, the industry was not allowed to buy fish caught by Native fishermen in restricted areas. Thus, although Native fishermen were not employees of the canneries, they were nevertheless constrained by their rules. Another issue that concerned officials from both the industry and the agency was the prices paid to Native fishermen for their catch. During an impromptu meeting that took place in 1929, the industry and the regulating bureau came to an agreement:

Whereupon, on motion of Mr. Friele of the Nakat Packing Corporation, it was agreed by all present, (with the exception of Mr. Witting of the International Packing Company of Ugashik), that Natives should be paid the same price for fish throughout Bristol Bay as we pay to White fishermen, that in addition, they should receive food and nets but not boats nor run money. Mr. Witting was of the opinion that fishermen supplying their own boats and nets should be given an advance over the price paid to men to whom the company furnished boats and nets. [117]

It would not be until the 1930s that resident fishermen became employees of the canneries, hired to catch fish under the same means as seasonal fishermen.

* * *

As more local people began to work at the Ugashik and Chignik plants, some attitudes towards Native workers once held by canners began to change for the better. In 1908, Father Kedrovskii of the Belkofski Parish suggested to the APA cannery superintendent that if he supplied wood and tile for a new Chignik chapel, then more people would settle down near the cannery. Father Kedrovskii reasoned that the superintendent would, "have at his disposal a large number of workers at any time, and would not need imported workers. [118] In fact, cannery superintendents found that Native workers fed and housed themselves, thereby freeing the cannery from that cost. Village proximity to the cannery made it possible for the foreman to hire by the day as needed. Perhaps most importantly, Native cannery workers became customers at the cannery mercantile store, thus allowing canners to recover paid wages.

Dr. Alan Boraas contends that receiving credit from the canneries was central to the incorporation of Alaska Natives into a market economy. According to Boraas, canneries gave Native laborers easy credit, which allowed them to buy such luxury items as guns, but then required them to work during the salmon season when they traditionally gathered food for their own use. By the end of the season, Native families had less food and no money. They used more company credit, and, as Boraas points out, Natives indentured themselves to the canneries for another season. Over time, fish processing outfits transformed the Alutiiq from a subsistence community that lived off the land into the American image of individualism and materialism. [119] Historian Chris Friday agrees, "Bringing Native Americans into a monetary economy through the canneries encouraged a dependency among Native American[s] that immensely benefited owners." [120]

Meanwhile, the arrival of international players to the central peninsula reconnected local residents to the outside world. Not only was that connection strengthened by the convergence of various ethnicities each summer, but it also grew with the advent of reliable and consistent communication. Canneries provided a means for consistent mail service for the first time in this region. Getting the mail to western Alaska had been previously conducted through private contractors, a practice that existed since the United States purchased Alaska from the Russians in 1867. As demand increased, various steamship companies such as the Pacific Packing & Navigation Company, Northern Commercial Company, and the Alaska Commercial Company competed for the mail contracts. The contract required that mail be delivered once a month along a route that extended 1,300 miles, from Sitka to Unalaska. Between 1890 and 1898 and again beginning in 1905, the SS Dora was assigned this route, dubbed the Western Run. While the cannery ships provided the supplies and people for the canneries, the Dora brought their mail, spare parts, and news of the rest of the world. [121]

By 1910, the canneries had permeated all aspects of life on the Alaska Peninsula, but not everyone found the industry to be a positive influence. "A new fish cannery has been built next to the [Chignik] village this year," wrote Orthodox Priest Father Kedrovskii. "Little by little, the Natives are pulled into cannery work and wage labor. But not everybody uses his earning productively. People suffer from alcohol abuse." [122] Still, nothing tipped the balance more that the viral diseases transported aboard commercial fishing ships. As people from all over North America, Europe, and Asia came to the central Alaska Peninsula, newcomers, once again, brought diseases that proved far deadlier than volcanoes, famine, or wars.

The cannery hospital took care of local residents, especially during the Spanish fky pandemic, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Spanish Flu Epidemic

In the spring of 1919, cannery ships transported the Spanish flu virus, which quickly swept through most native villages on the Alaska Peninsula and took its toll of human life, claiming adult victims from Pilot Point, Ugashik, and Meshik, while leaving their children orphaned and destitute. In the end, the pandemic nearly exterminated the entire adult population on the Peninsula. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 Alaskans died from the flu. [123] As historian Alfred Crosby points out, "In Alaska...isolation at first protected the Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos; and then, when the isolation failed in 1918, they died in greater percentages than any other people in the American empire." [124]

According to Crosby, Alaska was connected to the outside world through a fleet of steamship vessels that plied the coastal waters between its harbors and Seattle and other ports of the Lower 48, and "carried fish southward, manufactured articles northward, and passengers in both directions." [125] In addition, the population of the territory had dropped in recent years, along with physicians with special medical skills. Although Governor of Alaska, Thomas Riggs, asked steamship companies to examine all passengers bound north and to refuse passage to any with symptoms of influenza, the anti-flu policy failed, for anyone not yet showing symptoms could innocently carry the disease ashore. By October 14, 1918, Spanish influenza had reached Juneau, and in the spring of 1919, cannery ships not only imported seasonal gear and work crew, but they brought the flu as well. [126]

In 1919, the Territorial Government still had not passed any laws to provide Alaskans with health care. APA reports from Naknek show that the federal government was equally unresponsive to the crisis, for the reports tell of distress calls to U.S. Navy ships in the area that went unanswered. [127] The only available hospitals and medicine were located at the canneries. Some historians argue that APA dispensed free care to maintain a ready supply of healthy, productive workers. [128] Whether canneries aided Natives for altruistic or more selfish reasons is debatable. However, the epidemic occurred so quickly and was so widespread that it rendered the territorial and federal governments ineffective. Because few doctors were available, the canneries remained the only institution capable of dealing with the situation.

In May 1919, Superintendent Heinbockel of the APA Station in Naknek visited APA's sister cannery on the Ugashik River. His report painted a bleak picture:

On May 30, I made a trip [from Naknek] to the Alaska Packers Association's Ugashik cannery, arriving there the same evening. It was found that the influenza had attacked the Ugashik natives that practically the entire native population was stricken, also six of the white wintermen, and that one native had died the previous evening. Orders were issued to treat the natives at Ugashik with the same care and attention as those at Naknek; also to forbid anyone to leave or enter the Ugashik village. [129]

Cannery doctors and nurses gave what care they could for patients. But, by the middle of July, mass graves held the canvas wrapped corpses of most of the Native population of the Ugashik River. [130] Cannery workers built caskets and even dug graves to bury the dead. [131] Canneries provided survivors with food and clothing. The following summer, canneries throughout Bristol Bay provided work to the survivors, and at a time when it was not required by law to compensate dependents of dead employees, the Association paid the amount of one-year's salary to the employee's family. [132]

The Alaska Packers Association also established a temporary orphanage for parentless children. In July of that summer, the APA steamer Kodiak transported twenty-eight native orphans from the Ugashik villages to Naknek and Dillingham where they received medical care. [132] Church records show that after 1919, the entire population of Agishik died out or moved away during the epidemic. Governor Riggs, in his annual report to the Secretary of Interior, expressed his frustration about the impact of the pandemic on Alaska, for those in high authority who should have helped were, he suggested, "all too much engrossed with the woes of Europe to be able to note outwards, seemingly protected by solemn treaty with Russia, dying by swarms in the dark of the northern nights." [134] By 1920, the population on the Ugashik River primarily consisted of newcomers, there to work in the now well-established fishing industry. [135]

Incorporating Aniakchak: 1914-1937

In 1914 a war that was waged thousands of mile away from Aniakchak caused the demand for canned salmon to increase significantly. [136] New markets had recently opened to fish packers when the United States Army and Navy purchased huge quantities of canned salmon during World War I to feed troops fighting in the trenches of France. Even prisoners of war ate rations of canned fish. [137] Responding to the war effort, between 1914 and 1918, canners more than doubled the number of traps in Alaska from 240 to 552. In 1917, CRPA contributed to that number by driving the first trap in Aniakchak Bay. [138]

The trap was located at perhaps the most legally permissible site in the bay—approximately 2,000 feet southwest of the Aniakchak River mouth. [139] Aniakchak's rivers host primarily pink salmon with smaller runs of red, silver (O. kisutch), and chum salmon (O. keta). At the time, red salmon maintained the most significant commercial value, but by the 1920s, concerted efforts by the fishing industry opened markets for other species. In a letter to the superintendent of the Chignik plant, Bill Wootton, CRPA executive Fred Banker ordered his manager to strategically locate the Aniakchak trap so that it could catch an abundance of pink salmon:

In any event, you are on the ground and use your own judgment. What we want is the fish. We want to get all the Pink and Chum salmon possible. Of course, naturally, we are out for the Reds, but we have to have a certain amount of Pinks in order to fill our orders for other grades, so anything you can do to getting a catch of Pinks we want you to do. [140]

View of CRPA cabin in Aniakchak Bay looking southwest, 1990. Frank Norris, National Park Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

In 1919, the CRPA moved the trap approximately one thousand feet southwest from its 1917 location. Together, the two traps blocked over half of the area surrounding the Aniakchak River mouth. One or both of the traps were renewed the following year, while catch figures show that the Aniakchak Bay traps were consistently successful. Each year through 1920, they caught over 48,000 fish of all species, and, in 1918, the total exceeded 235,000. To the delight of CRPA owners, pink salmon constituted the greatest single species captured, and, as may be expected considering their two-year life cycle, they predominated during two of the four seasons. During the other two seasons, reds and chums comprised a majority of the total salmon catch. [141]

Besides reflecting changes occurring in the industry itself, the establishment of fish traps in Aniakchak Bay brought even more outside attention to the Aniakchak region. The construction of traps created the first regular ship traffic along the Aniakchak coastline. As Norris suggests, "this traffic may have prodded the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey into an investigation of the area. [142] As late as 1922, government explorers recognized that the central peninsula remained largely uncharted and most seagoing boats avoided the area. [143] Interest in the area by the fishing industry resulted in new mapping efforts. The Coast and Geodetic Survey dispatched two ships into the area and from 1924 through 1926 they charted both bays. [144] By 1926, the Coast Pilot reported, "The channel between Kumlik Island and the mainland is apparently clear and is constantly used by the cannery tenders when running between Aniakchak Bay and Chignik." [145] Tenders arrived "every few days" in 1930, and within a few years, tenders such as the Unga and the Semidi, visited the trap sites every day. [146]

View of CRPA Cabin and adjacent machine shop and shed from the berm looking east northeast, 1990. Frank Norris, National Park Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

Additionally, the need to construct fish traps brought the first assortment of non-Natives to Aniakchak Bay since the Russian Period. The seasonal trap crews arrived at Aniakchak in May or early June. In the first years CRPA was fishing Aniakchak Bay, workers lived on a small bunk scow, which had been hauled onto an island known as Ark Island located near the Aniakchak River mouth. In the spring of 1924, CRPA workers erected a bunkhouse at the north end of Aniakchak Bay, which served as the center of operations in Aniakchak for many seasons. The bunkhouse was later taken over by APA and was used by local people long after trap fishing ended in Aniakchak. In fact, the discovery of a child's leather shoe tells archeologists a family called the bunkhouse home, as well. Today, the CRPA bunkhouse remains one of the few standing structures in the monument and is the largest building within a forty mile radius. [147]

Little is know about the men who lived in the bunkhouse. It is likely that they originated from the Pacific Northwest, specifically Oregon where the CRPA was headquartered. The men numbered between twelve and twenty men and were responsible for building the traps, maintaining them, guarding them from fish pirates, and unloading the collected fish into the cannery tenders, aptly named the Unga and the Semidi [148] The men serviced the various traps with a five-ton gasoline-powered launch, which they moored at a dock on the sheltered west side of a small island in the bay known as Ark Island. Some days they would clear the traps of kelp and other debris, while on others they protected the traps from seals and sea lions hoping for an easy snack. The removing of fish, or brailing, from two to four traps kept the crew busy. As one former watchman recalled, "there is something to worry about every minute of the day." [149]

Due to intense over-fishing to fill government orders during World War I, the Alaskan salmon catch fell dramatically, and as a consequence, the number of territorial fish traps fell as well, from a high of 552 traps in 1918 to 180 traps three years later. The Aniakchak Bay fish traps that had been active from 1917 to 1920 were not renewed, and no known traps existed there for the next three years. Interest in fishing in Aniakchak Bay soon revived, but under a stronger regulatory structure.

Floor plan of the CRPA Bunkhouse cabin. From the Aniakchak Bay Historic Landscape District Nomination, Frank Norris, National Park Service, Anchorage, Alaska.

The Reservation System

Fish packers had long been aware of the consequences of over-fishing, but until the 1920s they had successfully resisted all attempts by the federal government for stronger regulations. [150] The post-war fish bust hit the Alaska canners hard, and as a result, they agreed to join the government and the scientific community to find an answer to the problem once and for all. [151] Fearing that Congressional legislation and new fish hatcheries might take too long to help the declining salmon resources, Secretary of Commerce and overseer of the Bureau of Fisheries, Herbert Hoover, requested that President Warren Harding use his executive authority to create fishery reserves to temporarily conserve Alaska's salmon. [152] In 1922, the president established the Alaska Peninsula Fisheries Reservation, the first such reserves.

The Chignik District, including Aniakchak Bay, was one of five districts that made up the Alaska Peninsula Reservation. The reservation system prevented new packers from establishing canneries on the Alaska Peninsula, and prohibited established canners from catching salmon in one district and transporting the fish for canning in another. [153] Although Hoover created the reservation system with the best intentions, the organizing method was ultimately unfair, especially to the smaller, local interests, who maintained that the salmon fishery should be developed to encourage the settlement of Alaska by independent and self-supporting people. [154] To Alaska residents, traps were a costly form of gear that reached beyond their ordinary means. The reservation system did not allow Alaskan fishermen or independent companies equal access to either the fishery or the market. It essentially gave established canneries complete control over the supply of fish. On the other hand, the larger canneries such as APA and CRPA supported the reservation system because, as Norris points out, "they saw it as an avenue by which they could create a private monopoly—the so-called Fish Trust." [155]

Secretary Hoover soon recognized the inequalities of the system and turned to Congress. In June 1924, legislators passed a conservation bill called the White Act, which was designed to eliminate previous abuses. [156] The legislation gave the Secretary the power to regulate the fish catch, the types of gear allowed, and the length of fishing season. The Act repealed the reservation system, and established laws to protect the decline of salmon. But in the end, the White Act did nothing to actually prevent the decline of salmon. [157] As Cooley contends, "the welfare of people and not fish was the raison d'etre for a management program." [158]

Essentially, the Bureau of Fisheries supported the use of traps because, "they were stationary and could be inspected and regulated more easily...and were more desirable in the interests of the fish supply." [159] This support of fish traps, opposed to the more affordable mobile gear, caused resident fishermen and other Alaskans to increasingly resent the federal government, for they saw this support as a government alignment with the absentee capitalists—the Fish Trust. Alaskans' mistrust of the federal government led to nothing less than the battle for statehood and the eventual abolishment of fish traps as a means of fishing in Alaska. That mistrust remains a dominant, if misguided, attitude toward the federal government today. Like most settlers of the American west, Alaskan fishermen, and later Alaskan politicians, never tired of condemning the lawmakers in Washington D.C. [160]

At the time, it is easy to understand why residents became frustrated with the U.S. government. With the new conservation measures in place, ironically, Alaska's salmon industry began to actually build more traps and catch more fish. While Congressional leadership, fish biologists, and corporate salmon packers patted themselves on the back for passing the regulatory White Act, Alaska's salmon continued to decline. [161] This trend was reflected in the re-establishment of several new fish traps in Aniakchak Bay. The same year the White Act passed, CRPA drove the "Aniakchak" trap (later called the "Beach" trap) along the western shore of the bay. The trap captured almost 150,000 fish that summer and slightly over 50,000 the following year. [162] It remained in operation until 1937.

Alutiit Move to the Background, American Politics and Culture Comes Forward: 1930s-1945

By the 1930s, the fishing industry began to show a decline, especially in the waters surrounding the Aniakchak landscape. As trap men struggled to catch the fish, the company they worked for struggled to keep ownership over their Aniakchak Bay traps. The Great Depression was hard on many of the salmon companies processing in Alaska, and in 1932, the Columbia River Packers Association succumbed. Even before the Stock Market crashed in 1929, CRPA had struggled economically and was forced under de facto management. In 1914, APA had purchased the CRPA cannery in Anchorage Bay. The consolidation left CRPA without a cannery, but the company maintained ownership of its Aniakchak trap sites. By 1932, the economic downturn had taken its toll, and CRPA, hard pressed for revenue, leased its traps to the Alaska Packers Association. On April 20, 1940, the Alaska Packers Association purchased the fish trap sites from CRPA outright, and continued to operate the traps until they closed them down in 1947. [163]

The Aniakchak Bay trap sites obtained by APA never saw the numbers that the contraptions produced in years immediately following the White Act. Beginning in 1930, one by one, the traps were removed. Some were closed for substandard catch numbers, but others closed due to governmental pressures to ration the number of trap sites. In 1935, territorial delegate Anthony Dimond submitted the first bill outlawing fish traps. For decades afterwards, a battle over the perceived power of absentee capital raged, and during that time, trap abolitionists won small victories. The result of the victories was a gradual decrease in the number of traps. As Norris suggests, "Considering that Columbia River Packers Association and the Alaska Packers Association had more productive trap sites in and around Chignik Lagoon, it is not surprising that the two companies gave up on Aniakchak Bay trap sites first." [164] Furthermore, fishermen strikes in the 1930s and World War II prevented fish trapping in Aniakchak Bay for most of those summers. Trap watchmen did eventually return, maintaining the traps during the summer of 1947. That August, they dismantled the "Beach" trap. The men stacked the pilings on the pile rack, and never returned. [165]

By 1950, the Aniakchak fishery had vanished, while the Ugashik and Chignik fisheries lingered, supported by the stronger fisheries of Bristol Bay and Kodiak. With runs dwindling to levels that could no longer support commercial canning operations, Alaskans continued to blame the decline on a greedy salmon industry that "desires to get everything they can out of Alaska and give absolutely nothing in return." [166] They also continued to blame the federal government, which they believed neglected to provide enough funds for sound science and strong enforcement of the Alaskan fisheries regulations. [167] Even though most Alaskans were fiercely against the device, canners still felt that traps represented the most important and productive type of gear used to catch salmon. By the 1950s, the issue over fish traps led to a fierce political battle between residents, the industry and the federal government. Almost immediately, the conflict dominated every other fishery-related issue in the Territory of Alaska. In 1954, Dr. Ernest Gruening, Alaska's ex-territorial governor, stated "No object in the daily life of Alaska has been so much in controversy and conflict from its first installation in the early days of the salmon history to the present." [168]

In his historical commentary, Frigid Embrace: Politics, Economic and Environment in Alaska, Haycox argues that over the decades, Alaska's non-Native community grew, as argonauts from across the United States came to the territory to strike it rich. With failure, some decided to stay, and when they did, they imported American political and legal systems, as well as the belief that the purpose of minerals, fish, flora, and fauna was to enrich human independence and improve their material environment. [169] Viewing themselves as the embodiment of "rugged individualism," these American newcomers residing in Alaska resented their dependence on the canneries and the federal government. With increasing dependency, a common fear grew throughout the Territory that absentee capitalists were monopolizing Alaska's resources, while the federal government supported them. In the minds of Alaskans, the only way to establish civil equality was statehood. In examining the battle for statehood, it is important to remember that by providing a greater degree of self-governance, these new American settlers did not intend to preserve an exploited resource, but, instead, hoped to increase their slice of the economic pie.

Happy Abyo and Orin Seybert out fishing on the Ugashik River, date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Pilot Point Tribal Council, Ace Griechen Collection.

Opponents of the fish trap advanced strong ecological arguments—so much so that even Alaskans who had never seen a trap branded canners as "fish killers." [170] But such arguments represented political rhetoric rather than environmentalism. Without doubt, economic reasons elicited the highest emotional responses to the trap issue. With salmon canners importing their own cannery crews from the Lower 48 and using traps to catch fish, the resident taxpayer felt that the salmon industry was putting local men and women out of work. As resident fishermen compared their empty fish holds with salmon-filled traps, they boiled with anger toward what they saw as absentee ownership of production and natural resources. They were equally angry with their federal landlord, who had broad resource management powers, but did nothing to prevent over-fishing.

Meanwhile, the Alaskan opposition, who had elevated their rhetoric to near hysterical levels, turned the trap issue into what economist George Rogers called "political currency." [171] Because most people believed that banning traps would create significant jobs and lead to population and economic growth in the territory, by the 1950s, the issue of fish traps moved from the rivers, bays and coastal areas into the political arena. Regardless of party affiliation, no Alaskan could support fish traps and expect to be elected to public office. The controversy was used as political capital, where clout was measured by "which politician was most strongly against fish traps and which one had done the most to bring about their demise." [172]

The canned salmon industry fought vigorously against statehood, fearing it would bring increased taxation and regulation. It had pinned great hope on developing hatcheries, but unfortunately, artificial propagation did not work. [173] Although today's historians and economists argue that the federal government was not as neglectful of Alaska (nor were traps as damaging to the economy) as politicians boasted, [174] most would agree that Alaska's opposition to the hated fish trap provided the political fuel for the movement towards statehood and the transfer of fisheries management from the Department of Interior to the forty-ninth state.

When Alaska became a state on January 3, 1959, most canners supported an amendment to the statehood act "that the administration and management of fish and wildlife resources of Alaska should be retained by the federal government under the existing laws." The salmon industry and Alaskans alike were shocked when, on April 28, 1959, Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton certified to Congress that Alaska was capable of managing its own resources, thus setting into motion the transfer of all fish and wildlife management from the federal to the state government. [175] The new managing agency, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (AD F&G), now determined where a fisherman could fish, when, and what type of gear he could use. The object for ADF&G biologists was to manage the fishery for maximum sustainable yields. From this point on, the mix of corporate and governmental institutions rather than rituals, rivers and the runs themselves controlled the pursuit of salmon.

* * *

Five posts are all that remains of the Alaska Packers Association cannery in Chignik Lagoon, 2004. Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth, Anchorage, Alaska.

Understandably, life in the Aniakchak area was changed drastically by economic, social, political, and especially, environmental change introduced by the American salmon canneries at the turn of the century. By the mid-1920s, a capitalist economic system in tandem with the introduction of deadly diseases, exerted a disintegrating influence on Native settlements scattered throughout the Aniakchak region and opened the door to American hegemony.

With a shortage in the labor supply due to World War II, some canneries opted to hire entire Native crews to process salmon. By the mid 1940s, Native peoples were fully engaged, either as fishermen or as cannery workers, in the commercial fishing industry, which had become the most significant economic activity on the Alaska Peninsula. According to a 1948 report in the industry's journal Pacific Fisherman, "the natives—mainly of Eskimo stock—are drawn from a large area, extending a considerable distance into the interior back of Bristol Bay and along the Kuskokwim River." Accounting for this mobility was "modern air transportation" that made summer employment in the canneries available to Alaska Natives. [176] Indeed, the increased use of resident cannery workers after the war was in part due to the many modern airfields that were constructed throughout Alaska at the time. These airfields made it possible for Native cannery workers to be brought in easily and rapidly from previously isolated areas. [177]

As Alutiiq people, like other Alaska Native groups, moved from all parts of the Alaska Peninsula to work at salmon canneries during the summer, it appeared on the surface as though they had returned to a period characterized by mobility. But, their driving force was no longer seasonal change. Seasonality had been replaced with the constant need by individuals to make money. Villages near canneries like Chignik became economic and social centers, while others, like Kanatak, vanished. As Partnow points out, "this period of economic unrest saw a splintering not just of settlements, but of the Alaska Peninsula Alutiiq social structure itself." [178] Like the rest of American society, the Alutiiq family, rather than the village, became the primary economic unit. The sense of belonging to a larger group, which had evolved from pre-contact fish camps and was nurtured during the Russian days, had become overshadowed by modern American capitalism.

In many families, both parents, even children, worked for the cannery. But despite the comfort of kinship, Chignik resident, Christina Martin, explains that cannery work, like the shift to a market economy, was an alienating experience:

I started working in the cannery maybe '36 or '37. I was fifteen. I was only fifteen. And when I first start to working too my dad went to the cannery and I went with him. And I was standing watching those other ladies working on the fish. And pretty soon this guy come, took me by my hand, and took me to the canning machine. And he showed me how to put those lids on the machine. And he walked away. [179]

An observer might point out that the capitalism that overtook the Alaska Peninsula was made possible by the salmon returning to the region's rivers and streams. But, in reality, it took a convergence of progressive technology, global cultural and historic events, and advancements in communication and transportation systems to drive the spread of capitalism on the peninsula. Had Frenchmen Nicholas Appert not invented a new method to preserve food in 1804, then canneries in Alaska would never have been able to extract salmon in such abundance. In that same vein, canneries would not have been able to send the highly perishable foodstuff to locales throughout America, Europe and Asia without effective food preservation techniques. For this type of large-scale exploitation of salmon to occur in places like Ugashik and Chignik, Scandinavian fishermen had to bring their fishing expertise; skilled carpenters, their knowledge of cannery construction; inventors, the cannery machines and equipment; and Henry Ford, the assembly line. Fuel had to be found, extracted and refined to provide energy to the canneries, and shipping routes had to be discovered and mapped to get the product to global markets. Finally, a huge population of consumers had to want to buy the inexpensive sources of protein from their local markets. Because all these events came together in the first few decades of the twentieth century, by World War II, Alaska's salmon no longer was the driving force on the Alaska Peninsula, but claimed an ascendant position, for nature no longer dictated the cultural norms of distant consumers.

Not surprisingly, then, the canned-salmon industry's relation to the surrounding environment was much different from that of the communal effort at fish camp. The cannery's sole purpose was for a hired workforce of fishermen or trap men to catch more fish than the cannery down river and to extract one of five species of salmon—the sockeye salmon—from the river. The salmon, which had been food for plants, bears, birds, fish, and people for 5,000 years, was at times excessively wasted by the canners, and never consumed by those who caught them. Although some hardworking and courageous commercial fishermen, especially those from Scandinavia, conducted a kind of first salmon ritual that "thanked" the fish for returning, for the most part, the salmon's value was in its price paid per fish, not in its assurance that fishermen and their families might survive a harsh winter. To commercial fishers and canners, nature became something to catch, something to can, something to conquer.

The Alutiiq people, without much choice, became incorporated into this system of American capitalism. Native fishermen sold their fish to the canneries. Families, accordingly, lived near them. Many people were employed by the canneries and incurred insurmountable credit debt as a result of purchasing items like boat motors and soda pop at their cannery store. Some, especially the elders, died from diseases brought to the area by cannery ships. As these patterns and processes were integrated into traditional, social and economic systems, local residents, like the sockeye salmon Hubbard watched being brailed from the canner's fish trap, had become ensnared in the web of American culture.

But as destructive as the canneries were to the Alutiiq people and their traditional ways, as with the volcanic eruption of Aniakchak 3,500 years ago, or the Russian invasion a century before, neither the people nor their Alutiiq identity completely disappeared with the introduction of industrialized capitalism. They adapted to change, and in the end, like the Aniakchak landscape itself, the Alutiiq people recovered, and continued on. Practices subscribed to by the older Alutiiq-Russian ways made room for the culturally diverse, market driven, and non-Orthodox newcomers. Though many of these newcomers came only seasonally, some stayed. In fact, it was this relatively small group of men, seeking new opportunities on the central Alaska Peninsula, who helped create Aniakchak's contemporary cultural landscape—a mixture of Alutiiq, Russian, and Scandinavian heritage. As cannery worker, Gerald A. Estep, observed in 1938:

When, at last, the cargo-passenger vessels laden with cased salmon and with those responsible for the catch headed from Chignik Bay in late September, there were hundreds of men on the decks to catch a final view of the beauty of the country. As well, there were several of those who had come to Chignik in the spring who remained on the dock when the ships pulled out. And beside each of them, the girl who was to help him make his permanent home in Alaska. [180]


1Hubbard, Cradle of the Storms, 73.


3Amos Burg, "The Packers Great Star Fleet" Alaska Fish tales and Game Trails summer (1982): 30-32.; Donald L. Guimary and Jack K. Masson, "Getting there, half the fun" Alaska Journal (1981): 102-106.

4Alan Boraas, "Turning Point: Photo Exhibit illustrates how canneries changed the Dena'ina" Peninsula Clarion, November 21, 1996, 11.

5Ernest Gruening State of Alaska (New York: Random House, 1954), 246.

6Ibid 245.

7Partnow, 207.

837 Stat. 512, Sec. 3

9J.C. Beaglehole III ed., The Journals of Captain James Cook, Part I (Halduyt Society, 1968), 397.

10Ralph W. Andrews and A.K. Larssen, Fish and Ships: This was Fishing From the Columbia to Bristol Bay (New York: Bonanza Book, 1959), 106.

11John M. Wright, Judith Morris, and Robert Schroeder, "Bristol Bay Regional Subsistence Profile," Technical Papers No. 114, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence (July, 1985) 15-16.

12Joseph E. Taylor III, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 6.

13Bruce Brown, Mountain in the Clouds: A Search for Wild Salmon (New York: Collier Books, 1990), 16.

14For a generalized description of the salmon life cycle see National Research Council's Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest (Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1996), 30-31.

15Tom Jay, Brad Matsen, and Natalie Fobes, Reaching Home: Pacific Salmon Pacific People (Seattle: Alaska Northwest Books, 1994), 18.

16Troy Hamon, Scott A. Pavey, Joe L. Miller, and Jennifer L. Nielsen, "Aniakchak Sockeye Salmon Investigation," in Alaska Park Science, Volume 3, Issue 2 (2005) 35-40.; B.P. Finney, Eaves Gregory, M.S. Douglas, J.P. Smol, "Fisheries Productivity in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean Over the Past 2,2000 years," Nature 416,6882 (2002 Apr 18): 729-33.; G. V. Hilderbrand, Thomas A. Hanley, Charles T. Robbins, C. C. Schwartz, "Role of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the flow of marine nitrogen into a terrestrial ecosystem" Oecologia Volume 121, Number 4 (December 1999): 546-550.

17Bruce P. Finney, Irene Gregory Eaves, Jon Sweerman, Marianne S.V. Douglas, John P. Smol, "Impacts of Climatic Change and Fishing on Pacific Salmon Abundance Over the Past 300 Years" Science Vol. 290 October 27 (2000) 795-799.

18Taylor, 6.

19Jay, et al., 18.

20Jay, 21.

21Crowell, et al, 176.

22Charles Cutting, A History of Fish Processing from Ancient to Modern Times (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956), 1.

23Lisa Frink, "Fish Tales: Women and Decision Making in Western Alaska" in Many Faces of Gender ed. by Lisa Frink, Rita Shepard, and Gregory Reinhardt (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2002), 94.

24Ibid., 101.


26Jay, et al., 25.

27Crowell, et. al, 176.

28For discussion on the myth of the "noble Indian" see Krech III, 17-29.

29For a collection of interviews of Alutiiq elders conducted over two decades see From Neqa to Tepa: A Database of the Tradition Knowledge about the Fish of Bristol Bay and the Northern Alaska Peninsula, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence (2003): O88-OEL-112302, 088-OZL-112302.

30Finney, et al., 796.

31William Robbins, "The World of Columbia River Salmon: Nature, Culture, and the Great River of the West" in The Northwest Salmon Crisis: A Documentary History, ed. Joseph Cone and Sandy Ridlington (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1996), 2-21; Courtland L. Smith, "Evolution of the Pacific Canned Salmon Fishery" In The Fishing Culture of the World: Studies in Ethnology, Cultural Ecology and Folklore, ed. Bela Gunda (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1984), 951-965.

32Richard Cooley, Politics and Conservation: The Decline of the Alaska Salmon (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1963), 26.

33Because of Alaska's remote location and extreme environment Terrence Cole argues in the introduction to Morgan Sherwood's Exploration of Alaska, 1865-1900 (Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 1992), that federal management of Alaska's resources in 1890 was as difficult as NASA attempting to build a space program in the 19608.

34Cooley, 27.

35Congress passed an Act making it unlawful to erect dams, barricades, or other obstruction in any of the rivers of Alaska in 1889, Cooley, 73.

36Cooley, 27. Historian Arthur F. McEvoy makes a similar argument in his landmark study of the California fisheries in The Fishermans Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850-1980 (Cambridge University Press, 1986); as does Taylor in Making Salmon. Other studies about the impact of commercial fishing include: Dianne Newell's The Development of the Pacific Salmon-Canning Industry: A Grown Man's ame (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1989); Geoff Meggs's Salmon: The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1991); and Joseph Cone's A Common Fate: Endangered Salmon and the People of the Pacific Northwest (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1995).

37Cooley, 71.

38Stephen Haycox, Alaska: an American Colony (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 241.

39Ibid., 241.

40H.C. Scudder, "The Alaska Salmon Trap: Its Evolution, Conflicts, and Consequences," Alaska State Library, Number 1 (1970), 1-2.; James Vanstone, Eskimos of the Nushagak River an Ethnographic History (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1964), 67.

41Hinckley, 33.

42Ivan Petroff, in Jefferson Moser, "Arctic Salmon Investigations in 1900 and 1901," Bulletin of the US Fish Commission vol. 21 (Washington D.C: GPO, 1902), 180.

43Moser, 180.

44Moser, 215.

45Apparently, a resident from the Native village commonly piloted vessels through the channel, hence the name Pilot Station, or the current name, Pilot Point, Moser, 214-215.

46Moser, 217.

47Petroff, in Moser, 180.


49Morseth, 94.; Moser, 214.

50Michael Sullivan and Phyllis DeMuth, A Guide to the Alaska Packers Association Records, 1891-1970 in the Alaska Historical Library (Juneau: Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries and Museums, 1983), 4.

51Lewis MacDonald, Chronological History of Salmon Canneries in Western Alaska (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Annual Reports, 1951), 58.

52Berg, 31.

53Moser, 216.

54Ibid., 217. MacDonald, 59.

55"Letter to Bristol Bay Salmon Packers From A.K. Tichenor, Acting APA Secretary to discuss meeting held on Nov 17, 1925" Season 1926, APA Corporate records. Center of Pacific Northwest Studies, Bellingham, WA. A copy is also located in author's personal collection; Moser, 216.

56MacDonald, 59.

57Moser, 165.

58Lewis MacDonald, History of Central Alaska Canneries (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Annual Report, 1951), 73.

59Moser, 180, 216.

60Andrews and Larssen, 101.

61Bruce Weilepp, "Sailing Gillnets Boats of the Columbia River" National Fisherman (April, 1991): 44.

62Andrews and Larssen, 103.

63Ibid., 101.

64Moser, 180-183.

65Dan Strickland, "Egegik!" Alaska Magazine Vol. 62 (May-June, 1996): 37.

66Frank Norris, "Aniakchak Bay Historic Landscape District," National Register Nomination, (National Park Service, 1997), 6.

67A good description of the way fish traps work can be found in George W. Rogers, Alaska in Transition: The Southeast Region (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1960), 4-15.

68Moser, 190.

69Ibid., 216.

70According to a study of technological change in the canning industry by Patrick W. O'Bannon, APA's Ugashik Cannery would have employed the most current technological innovation. Patrick W. O'Bannon, "Technological Change in the Pacific Coast Canned Salmon Industry, 1900-1925: A Case Study" Agricultural History 56, no. 1 (1982): 151-166.

71Duncan A. Stacey, Sockeye & Tinplate: Technological Change in the Fraser River Canning Industry, 1871-1912, Heritage Record No. 15, (British Columbia Provincial Museum, 1982), 1.

72Ibid., 7.

73Moser, 188.




77Taylor, 45.

78M. Patricia Marchak, "What Happens When Common Property Becomes Uncommon," BC Studies (winter 1988-89), 12.

79McEvoy, 10.

80Marchak, 14; For first-hand accounts of competition in the commercial fishery and its impacts, see R.D. Hume's Salmon of the Pacific Coast (San Francisco, 1893); D. Newell's Development of the Pacific Salmon-Canning Industry; and Roger T. Tetlow and Graham J. Barbey's Barbey: The Story of a Pioneer Columbia River Salmon Packer (Portland: Binford & Mort Publishing, 1990).

81Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 6.

82Moser, 218.

83Howard Kutchin, Report on the Inspection of the Salmon Fisheries. Department of Commerce and Labor, Bulletin 618 (Washington: GPO, 1906).

84MacDonald, 74.

85Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 7.

86MacDonald, 74-75.

87"Chignik Fishing Contract 1924-1930." Columbia River Packers Association Records, 85.55.439, Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria, OR.

88Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 8-7.

89Ibid., 8, 10.

90Vanstone, 63.

91Tuten, 25, Partnow also makes the same claim.

92Moser, 178-179.

93Moser, 216.

94Morseth, 96.

95Kutchin, 48.

96Moser, 186.

97Vanstone, 63.

98Haycox, Alaska Colony, xiv.

99Haycox, Frigid Embrace, 29.

100John N. Cobb, Salmon Fisheries of the Pacific Coast, Bureau of Fisheries Document 751 (Washington D.C., 1911), 68.

101Pat Conover, "Salmon Canning Industry: the Job that calls for a Thick Skin, Steady Nerves, and a Strong Back" Alaska Life (March, 1947): 27.

102Partnow, 136-137.

103Ibid., 207.

104For more information on Asian American labor history see Chris Friday's Organizing Asian American Labor (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994).

105Alicja Muszynski, Cheap Wage Labour: Race and Gender in Fisheries of British Columbia (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996), 20.

106"Inside Facts about Saving Raw Material and Reducing Labor Costs," Pacific Fisherman (November, 1924): 23.

107Friday, Organizing Asian, 87.

108Ibid., 88.

109Huge W. McKirvill, The Salmon People (Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1967), 57-58.

110Muszynski, 12.; For other studies on race and gender relations in canneries, see Meggs, Salmon: The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery and Viki Ruiz's Cannery Women Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1987); Friday, Organizing Asian American Labor (1994).

111Ibid., 20.

112Morseth, 141.

113V. Modestov, "Report to Nushagak Parish, 1897" Alaska Russian Church Archives R145/f120. Translations by Kathy Arndt located in ANIA Files 2089/008.01-01, Box 2, Folder 04, Lake Clark Katmai Studies Center, Anchorage, AK.

114August Pedersen, interview by Lisa Scarbrough, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Partnow, 210.

115"Letter to Bristol Bay Salmon Canners: Purchasing Fish, Bristol Bay Season 1930, anonymous, San Francisco, California, November 26, 1929." Alaska Packers Association Collection, Center of Pacific Northwest Studies, Bellingham, WA. A copy is located at in author's personal collection.

116"Note: re: Fishing by "Natives" in Letter to Bristol Bay salmon packers from A.K. Tichenor, acting secretary Alaska Packers Association, San Francisco, November 17, 1925." APA Collection, Center of Pacific Northwest History, Bellingham, WA.

117"Letter to Bristol Bay Salmon Canners: Purchasing Fish, Bristol Bay Season 1930, author anonymous (probably A.K. Tichenor, San Francisco, California, November 26, 1929." APA Collection. Center of Pacific Northwest Studies, Bellingham, WA. A copy is located in author's personal collection.

118Kedrovskii, "Report to Belkovski parish from Vvedenski, June 26, 1909" Alaska Russian Church Archives, R134/f251. Translations by Kathy Arndt located in ANIA File 2089/008.01-01, Box 2, Folder, 04, Lake Clark Katmai Studies Center, Anchorage, AK.

119Dr. Alan Boraas, personal communication.

120Ibid., 88.

121Goforth, 9 and 39.

122V. Kedrovskii, "Report to Belkovski from Vvedenski, June 25, 1910" Alaska Russian Church Archives R134/284. Translations by Kathy Arndt located in ANIA file 2089/008.01-01, Box 2, Folder 04, Lake Clark Katmai Studies Center, Anchorage, AK.

123Ronald L. Lautaret, "Alaska's Greatest Disaster: The 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic" The Alaska Journal (Vol. 16, 1986): 238-243.

124Alfred Crosby, America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 (Cambridge University Press, 1989), 241.

125Ibid., 241.

126Ibid., 241-243 and 256.

127J.F. Heinbockel, Superintendent and Frederick B. Spencer, Medical Officer, "Report on 1919 Influenza Epidemic, Alaska Packers Association, Naknek Station, 5," (Juneau: Alaska Historical Library, 1919), 5.

128Friday, 90.

129Heinbockel, 3-4.

130Morseth, 76.

131"Service: The True Measurement of Any Institution Lies in the Service it Renders," (Published by the Alaska Packers Association, circa 1919), 5-6.

132Service, 7.

133Heinbockel, 9.

134Report of Department of Interior, 1919, vol. 2, 409; in Crosby, 257.

135Morseth, 75.

136Homer E. Gregory and Kathleen Barnes, "North Pacific Fisheries: with Special Reference to Alaska Salmon," Studies of the Pacific No. 3, American Council Institute of Pacific Relations, (1939): 99-101.

137"The Official Story of Canned Salmon in the Army," Pacific Fisherman Yearbook, (1919): 101-104.

138Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 10.

139Ibid. 10.

140"Letter to Mr. W. B. Wooton, from Fred Banker, April 27, 1927," CRPA Records 85.55.444.

141Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 11.

142Ibid., 418.

143Smith and Baker, 168.

144US Coast and Geodetic Survey, Annual Report (Washington GPO for 1924) 53, 78; (1925) 58, 59, 74; (1926) 39, 55, Map 14.

145US Coast and Geodetic Survey, US Coast Pilot, Alaska, Part II: Yakutat Bay to the Arctic Ocean, second edition (Washington: GPO, 1926), 172.

146Norris, Isolated Paradise, 418.

147VanderHoek and Myron, 26.


149Stan Lilian, "Fish-Trap Patrol," Alaska Sportsman, 6 (March 1940), 14.

150Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 12; several historians have looks at the history of conservation in the commercial fishing Industry. Both Taylor and McEvoy examine the issue in terms of the relationship between economy, ecology, and culture. Likewise, economists James A. Crutchfield and Giulio Potencorvo, in their study of the Pacific Salmon fisheries describe such conservation measures as "irrational." Crutchfield and Pontecorvo, "The Pacific Salmon Fisheries: A Study of Irrational Conservation," in Interpreting Alaska's history: An Anthology ed. Mary Childer Mangusso and Stephen W. Haycox (Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Press, 1989).

151For more information on Alaska's fishing politics see Richard Cooley's Politics and Conservation: The Decline of the Alaska Salmon (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1963).

152Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 13, Cooley, 111-117 and 109.

153Norris, 66.

154Cooley, 97.

155Norris, 13.

156Cooley, 119.

157Cooley, 181.; Arthur McEvoy makes a similar argument in that the fisherman's problem of declining fish runs is as much a bureaucratic problem as it is an ecological problem, 14.

158This is the crux of Cooley argument in Politics and Conservation.

159U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries and Fur Seal Industries, 1913 (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1914), 45.

160Hinckley, 49.

161Cooley, 181; Crutchfield and Pontecorvo, 334.

162Norris, "Historic Landscape District," 14.

163Norris, Isolated Paradise, 417.

164Norris, "Aniakchak Bay Historic Landscape District," 18.

165VanderHoek, and Myron, 26-27.

166Delegate Wickersham's response during Congressional hearing in 1916. In Gruening's State of Alaska, 198.

167Ernest Gruening advanced the argument that the federal government had neglected Alaska during its territorial days in his monograph, The State of Alaska, published in 1954.

168Ernest Gruening, 169.

169Haycox, 30.

170Rogers, 13.

171Ibid, 15.

172Ibid, 4-5.

173For a history of the environmental impact of artificial propagation, see Taylor's, Making Salmon.

174Academics such as Steve Colt, Morgan Sherwood and Terrence Cole have made recent arguments against Gruening's Neglect Thesis.

175Rogers, 15.

176"Libby Cannery Uses All-Native Crew" Pacific Fisherman, January 1948, 51.

177Vanstone, 80.

178Partnow, 173.

179Christina Martin, in Partnow, 238

180Gerald A. Estep, "Chignik" The Alaska Sportsman, September, 1938, 20.

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Last Updated: 03-Aug-2009