Makushin Bay: Its Resources and People

Location and characteristics

 

This section describes this beautiful bay on Unalaska Island, and the Unangax people who lived there for thousands of years.

Background Information

This map shows Makushin Bay on Unalaska Island in the Aleutian Chain. The bay was historically the home of several permanent (winter) villages and a number of seasonal (summer) camp sites of the Unangax people. Note the many resources that were available in and near the bay.

The village of Makushin was abandoned during World War II when the U.S. Government required that the Unangax people move away from the islands, which were under attack from the Japanese, to Southeastern Alaska.

 

Alaska is the home of many indigenous groups beyond the Unangax (also called "Aleut", as in the map on the right). In fact, there are five cultural groups that, all-told, speak twenty different languages. The Aleutian Islands, the chain that extends off the southwestern coast of the state, was traditionally the home of people who made their living from the resources of the sea. With very few land animals available, but an incredibly rich combination of sea mammals, fish, shellfish, and birds, the people thrived and built a complex and rich culture.

For more information about the Unangax people (called by the Russians "Aleuts") who made the Aleutian Islands their home, visit http://www.alaskanative.net/en/main_nav/education/culture_alaska/unangax/.

 

 

Makushin Bay is an area of both shallow, intertidal zones and deep water where sea mammals and halibut thrive. There are also salmon streams and plenty of rocks where sea birds nest and hatch their eggs.

 

Long ago, the Unangax people lived in large, warm houses that were made from the most common resources -- grass and sod. Their design was ingenious in the windy Aleutian Islands. Because they were built halfway into the ground with the entrance in the roof, they offered no way for the winds to penetrate the house.