Old Harbor is an Alutiiq village on Kodiak Island, Alaska approximately 40 air miles from the City of Kodiak on the southeast side of the Island. Old Harbor is one of the Island's six Alutiiq villages and is primarily inhabited by an Alutiiq population. Old Harbor residents enjoy sharing Kodiak Island's beautiful lands with visitors and their hospitality is legendary. Visitors find residents to be warm, generous, and sincere. Today, the community of Old Harbor has a modern airstrip, a harbor for its fishing fleet and the modern amenities of water, sewer, electricity, internet, satellite, and cellular services.
The economy historically is based on commercial fishing and is supplemented by ecotourism today. Sport fishing guides, three lodges and several bed and breakfasts are some of the businesses that have been developed to serve visitors from all over the world interested in a wilderness experience. The protected waters of Sitkalidak Strait, which borders Old Harbor, is home to abundant species of fish including salmon, herring, halibut and cod harvested by commercial and sports fishermen as well as subsistence use.
Whales that migrate through the area include humpbacks, orcas, fin and gray whales. Puffins and many other birds arrive in the spring, having flown thousands of miles to nest in rocky island nooks throughout the archipelago. And it is home to the world famous Kodiak Brown Bear.
Families continue a tradition of subsistence hunting and fishing in the village. Many residents smoke, dry and pickle fish, harvest berries, gather sea gull eggs, kelp, shellfish, sea urchins and octopus, and hunt for ducks, ptarmigan, goat, deer, seal and sea lion. Relatives and friends return in the fall to subsistence hunt and fish.
In the past 15 years, many of the community's Alutiiq descent have been experiencing a resurgence of pride in their culture. Old Harbor has an active Native Dance Group, the Nuniaq Alutiiq Dancers, which perform locally and travel to share their culture. Similarly, many residents and former residents are respected and accomplished artists. At Old Harbor's public school there is an annual Alutiiq Week celebration where students learn and practice cultural skills. Additionally, Native arts and crafts are made at throughout the community, the Alutiiq language is taught at the school through the Alutiiq Museum's Language Revitalization program, and Nuniaq cultural camp is held on Sitkalidak Island every summer.
Old Harbor is unique in its blending of older Sugpiaq traditions, the Orthodox Christian Religion, and a strong subsistence based lifestyle with newer influences from modern American society. Many friends and relatives return for Annual Festivities such as Independence and Labor Day celebrations and Orthodox Christian festivities at Christmas, New Years and Easter, which are celebrated on the Julian calendar. Others return home to fill their freezers by subsistence hunting and fishing in the fall months.
These community activities reflect the work of the Old Harbor Native Corporation, the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, and the City of Old Harbor, who collaborate to unite the community for a healthy future. These leading community organizations enhance community life by preserving the culture and the land, and providing opportunities for community members to continue to thrive in their traditional Alutiiq home.