Preserving Kodiak's Maritime Heritage

Fish Tales, Petroglyphs and Kodiak Pioneers

A fish tale in progress
A "Fish Tale" in progress

The spring of 2002, KMM, in collaboration with the Alutiiq Museum, Baranov Museum and Kodiak Military History Museum, launched an oral history project, “Fish Tales, Petroglyphs and Kodiak Pioneers." 

Each month old-timers are videotaped as they tell their stories and relay accounts of the dramatic events that transformed the Kodiak region during their lifetime. 

Most of them were eyewitnesses to the buildup of WWII and some helped build the Navy base and other military facilities throughout the archipelago. They lived through the Great Alaska Earthquake and accompanying tsunami. And they watched the growth of Alaska's commercial fisheries and the transformation of Kodiak from a small village to homeport of Alaska's largest fishing fleet.

Over the past year, "Fish Tales" has recorded the life stories of Emil and Frieda Norton; DeWitt and Wanda Fields and their sons; Calvin Skonberg; Norm and the late Peggy Sutliff; Bud and Jack Owen; Judge Roy Madsen; the late Sven Haakanson, Sr.; Iver Malutin; Anton Larsen's granddaughter's Myrtle Olsen and Martha Randolph; and Marcy and Harold Jones.

The interviews take place in front of audiences at one of Kodiak's downtown museums. The project received statewide recognition when KMM applied for and received an Alaska Humanities Grant for the project. Individual donations, video sponsorships and museum volunteers also support "Fish Tales."

Special thanks go to supporters and oral history committee members Deedie Pearson, Katie Kavanaugh, Alice Reyser, Sue Jeffrey, Balika Haakanson, Curt Law, Joe Stevens, David Kaplan, Sven Haakanson and Eric Waltenbaugh.