A Little History

Kodiak Island, home to the native Alutiiq people for centuries, experienced profound change in the 1700’s with the arrival of Russian traders. The explorers, Steven Glotov and Captain Cook, put Kodiak on the “map” paving the way for the island to become headquarters for the Russian company Shelikov-Golikov in 1792. Thus began a long history of Russian influence in the Kodiak Archipelago. Kodiak is also the resting place of St. Herman, one of North America’s earliest saints. St. Herman made his way to Kodiak during the height of Russian colonization in 1794, ministering and giving to the Alutiiq natives. His influence was a much-needed balm on the sometimes stormy relations between the Russians and Natives. His legacy had a profound effect on the spread of Orthodoxy in the Kodiak Archipelago and throughout North America. Each year, hundreds of people come from all over the world to venerate his relics in Kodiak  town and to visit Spruce Island, where he lived and ministered, during the annual St. Herman Pilgrimage in early August.

When most people think of Kodiak Island they may conjure up images of giant bears, legendary salmon runs, flocks of bald eagles, and fantastic marine wildlife. All of these things are true, though we know there is so much more to our beautiful island. The Island sits at approximately 57 degrees north, on the southern coast of Alaska. The island is 99 miles long, and 10 to 60 miles wide in parts. With these dimensions, Kodiak is ranked second largest US Island, trumped only by the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Kodiak is rather mountainous, and home to Sitka spruce, Alder, Devil’s Club, Pushki or Cow’s Parsnip, and many beautiful wildflower varietals.

With an average of 70” of rain and 70” of snow per year, Kodiak is considered a rain forest. Driving around town, you might see bumper stickers advertising our most popular event–Kodiak Rain Festival-January 1st-December 31st. Precipitation is a given, and what little sunshine and dry periods we get are considered a reprieve and a blessing. However, the rain is an essential part of the Kodiak ecosystem as it allows a flourishing salmon population to make their herculean summer journey through the streams to lay eggs. It also creates lush vegetation; verdant moss, sometimes 8 or more inches deep hangs off trees and carpets the forest floor. Gigantic ferns and flora enchant those who enter Kodiak’s lush forests.

Most people recognize Kodiak as home to the Kodiak Brown Bear, a species considered the largest in the world. These giants gorge themselves on fresh salmon, berries, grasses, and plants, and can weigh upwards of 1,000 lbs. In addition to bears, Kodiak is home to a variety of marine mammals, birds, foxes, deer, and more, making the island an ideal location for hunting, fishing, camping, and enjoying God’s beauty and bounty.

These websites provide excellent additional information and beautiful photos of Kodiak Island