The History of Angoon

This Tlingit community is the only permanent settlement on Admiralty Island, located on the southwest side at Kootznahoo Inlet. Angoon is 60 miles southwest of Juneau. It lies at approximately 57 30' N Latitude, 134 35' W Longitude (Sec. 25, T050S, R067E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Juneau Recording District. The area encompasses 23 sq. miles of land and 14 sq. miles of water.

Admiralty Island has long been the home of the Kootznoowoo Tlingit tribe. Kootznoowoo means "fortress of bears." From the 1700s to the mid-1800s, fur trading was the major money-making activity in the area. In 1878, the Northwest Trading Company established a trading post and whaling station on nearby Killisnoo Island and villagers were employed to hunt whales. Whaling, a BIA school and a Russian Orthodox Church attracted many Tlingits to Killisnoo. In 1882, a whaling vessel's harpoon charge accidentally misfired and exploded, killing a Native crewmember - a Tlingit shaman, or medicine man. Villagers demanded payment of 200 blankets to the man's family, as was customary. The Northwest Trading Co. felt threatened and sought assistance from the U.S. Navy at Sitka. The village and a summer camp were subsequently shelled and destroyed by the Navy Cutter U.S.S. Corwin. Native accounts of the attack claim six children died by smoke inhalation. In 1973, Angoon won a $90,000 out-of-court settlement from the Federal government for the 1882 bombardment. Whaling did not last long, and the company switched to herring processing. During this time, many Tlingits moved to Killisnoo for employment at the plant. In 1928, Killisnoo was destroyed by fire, and many Tlingits returned to Angoon. The Angoon post office was established in 1928.


To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development