More About Qutekcak
Qutekcak Native Tribe is a collection of Alaska Native people of different heritages instead of just one cultural group as is traditional. Historically, Seward was a large, active trading post for the Alaska Natives within the Prince William Sound area and on the Kenai Peninsula. Alaska Natives living in these areas are called Aleut or Alutiiq people.
The earliest people in the area were known as Unegkurmuit. These were the ancestors of Alaska Native people now living in Port Graham, Nanwalek and English Bay. Russian explorers first discovered the bay in the 1800s as well as the number of Alaska Natives who could be used for labor to help them harvest the timber from Montague Island. The area was abandoned by the Russians in the mid 1800s although the Native population remained.
In the early 1900s more and more Westerners discovered the area known as Seward because of its all-weather port and timber industry. Resurrection Bay provided access to other parts of Alaska for these early explorers. During this time, Alaska Natives were expected to assimilate into western society and culture so their Native traditions were crushed.
The Jesse Lee Home for Alaska Native orphans moved to Seward in 1925 bringing a large number of Native children to Seward. In addition, the government opened the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1946 where many Native peoples were sent for treatment. These two events resulted in more growth in the Native population and became cornerstones for the area’s Native population today. Many of those who moved to the area and decided to adopt it as their home.
Although our beginnings aren’t auspicious, we are a proud people. Our elders gathered in the mid-1960s to begin the formal process of organizing and planning for our future. We were first called the Chugach Native Association in the 1960s and later the Mount Marathon Native Association in 1972. Unfortunately, we did not obtain a listing in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act as other Alaska Native communities did. This has resulted in a decades long struggle to gain federal recognition as an American Indian tribe.
In 1993, we changed our name to Qutekcak Native Tribe to help our people regain a connection to “the big beach” from the Alutiiq language. Over time, we hope to provide services to our ancestors in the area to help our people regain their ties to history and culture as well to thrive in today’s world.