Uyaqsaq : Larsen Bay

Tamamta Uyaqsarmiu’at: We all are from Larsen Bay.

Tucked against the shore of Uyak Bay, 62 miles from Kodiak, the village of Larsen Bay is a cluster of houses, large metal-roofed cannery buildings, sturdy wooden docks, and boardwalks. Today, the community is home to about 91 people. Named for Unga Island entrepreneur Peter Larsen, Larsen Bay was founded in 1888 when the Arctic Packing Company constructed a cannery to process salmon from southern Kodiak Island. In 1911, the facilities became part of the Alaska Packers Association. The cannery, which continues to operate seasonally as Icicle Seafoods, provides employment for community members. Many Alutiiq families also lead guided hunting and fishing excursions around scenic Uyak Bay.

Despite its association with the canning industry, Uyaqsaq was also home to many ancient Alutiiq families. A portion of the village rests atop the Uyak site, a massive prehistoric midden that holds houses, tools, and burials. This site is one of the best known in Alaska due to its research history. In the 1930s, Ales Hrdlicka, a physical anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution, led investigations at the site removing hundreds of human skeletons. In 1991, Larsen Bay residents worked successfully for the return of these ancestral remains. It was one of the first repatriations in the United States. Their efforts set a precedent for the return of Native American skeletons and reverential treatment of Native American graves.

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