Kina nanwalegmek? - Who is from English Bay?
The Alutiiq village of Nanwalek lies on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, just ten miles southwest of Seldovia. Although Alutiiq people have lived in this region for thousands of years, the community of Nanwalek began as a Russian trading post, built by fur traders in 1785. It was first named Alexandrovsk after the Russian tsar Alexander I. Alutiiq families settled in Alexandrovsk because it was a center of commerce, a place where they could trade furs for Western goods. After the transfer of Alaska to American control, the village name changed to English Bay.
In 1991, villagers changed the community’s name again, selecting Nanwalek. This traditional Alutiiq name means “place by lagoon.” Today, about 220 people live in Nanwalek, most of them Alaska Natives. Many continue to speak Alutiiq and to participate in traditional subsistence activities. Community residents also work at the Nanwalek School, fish commercially, and take seasonal jobs at the nearby Port Graham cannery. You can reach Nanwalek by boat or airplane, but like many Alutiiq villages, it is not accessible by road.
Map: The Alutiiq world, with English Bay at the tip of the Kenai Peninsula.