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National parks and reserves -- Alaska, National parks and reserves -- Alaska -- Kenai Peninsula -- Planning


For countless generations, Lake Clark has been home to the inland Dena’ina people. This unique and vast fresh-water lake complex sits at the intersection of sprawling tundra, taiga, and jagged cordillera, dotted with villages. Here, village life has been sustained by herds of caribou, shorelines populated by moose and beaver, vast runs of salmon ascending from Bristol Bay, and other natural assets. But the area’s uniqueness extends beyond its abundant natural resources. Also unique is the National Park Service (NPS) unit that has occupied the region known as Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (LACL) in recent decades.

The study covers the Interior Dena’ina cultural landscape—involving both the meaning of the landscape to Dena’ina people and their interactions with this core part of their traditional homeland, as well as the physical traces (often very subtle) the community has left on the landscape. We discuss places with unique cultural and historical significance to Interior Dena’ina people within the study area—places associated with historical events and people, with ceremonial traditions, and with enduring crafts. Similarly, we document places and resources associated with teaching cultural knowledge, with healing, and with “storied landscapes.”This document brings together diverse types of information, organized in a manner that will assist all parties in assessing the cultural meaning and value of landscapes in the southwestern corner of LACL. Certain patterns are clear in the data. Interviewees attest to the deep cultural and social significance of fish camps, but also beaver camps and other subsistence stations within the study area—not only as places of resource procurement, but as hubs of cultural activity and the intergenerational transmission of core cultural knowledge. (Some, but not all, of these camps are included on maps within this report.) Many other aspects of Dena’ina culture are sustained by these places, such as traditional craft skills, knowledge of cold weather survival techniques, traditional travel skills, Dena’ina language and traditional stories, and traditional cultural prescriptions for the handling and honoring of game species. Specialized hunting and gathering traditions still practiced by Dena’ina harvesters are also linked to the riparian and lacustrine margins. Medicinal and food plant gathering is widespread in these areas as well. These layers of cultural significance are reflected in longstanding Dena’ina place names found across the landscape. So too, some portion of the names are shown on the maps in this report.

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