Tangirnaq Native Village

Tangirnaq Native Village

3449 Rezanof Drive East , Kodiak, AK
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Woody Island is a small island that lies at the northern entrance to Chiniak Bay, just two miles from the city of Kodiak. It is part of the outlying islands that provide shelter for Kodiak's harbors. Woody Island is four miles long and two miles wide. It has seven small lakes and about thirteen miles of coastline. By Kodiak standards this is small island, yet is has a rich and remarkable history.

Archaeological data indicates that the Sugpiaq Alutiiq people occupied the island for a millennia. Prehistoric sites are common on Woody Island. When Russian traders arrived, the major Alutiiq village in northern Chiniak Bay was on Woody Island's western coast. Known by its Sugqiaq name, Tangirnaq, this village was home to hundreds of residents who called themselves Tangirnarmiut, "the people of Tangirnaq." The Russians called this settlement Ostrov Leisnoi or, "wooded island."

The Russian-American Commercial Company operated an ice company on the island beginning in 1852. They dammed Lake Tanignak, increasing its depth substantially. They cut and shipped ice south to the west coast of America. The company brought in the first iron rails to haul ice and horses. Horse-powered saws cut the ice into blocks and a sawmill was built to produce sawdust that was used to insulate the ice for shipment. The first road built in Alaska was graded around Woody Island to allow the horses to be exercised. In 1867 the company was renamed the Kodiak Ice Co.


Ernest and Ida Roscoe founded a Baptist orphanage and church on Woody Island in 1893. This provided a home for some children who were in need, but it also led to many conflicts with Native families over the custody of their children. The Baptist missionaries sometimes brought children to the orphanage, even against their parents' will. They also discouraged the practice of Russian Orthodoxy, which was the faith of most Woody Islanders at that time.