The Island has been inhabited for the past 8,000 years. The first non-Native contacts were in 1763, by the Russian Stephen Glotov, and in 1792 by Alexander Baranov, a Russian fur trapper. Sea otter pelts were the primary incentive for Russian exploration, and a settlement was established at Chiniak Bay, the site of present-day Kodiak. At that time, there were over 6,500 Sugpiaqs (Koniags) in the area and the Island was called "Kikhtak." It later was known as "Kadiak," the Inuit word for island. Kodiak became the first capital of Russian Alaska, and Russian colonization had a devastating effect on the local Native population. By the time Alaska became a U.S. Territory in 1867, the Koniag region Eskimos had almost disappeared as a viable culture. Alutiiq (Russian-Aleut) is the present-day Native language. Sea otter fur harvesting was the major commercial enterprise, and eventually led to the near extinction of the species. However, in 1882 a fish cannery opened at the Karluk spit. This sparked the development of commercial fishing in the area. The "Town of Kodiak" was incorporated in 1940. During the Aleutian Campaign of World War II, the Navy and the Army built bases on the Island. Fort Abercrombie was constructed in 1939, and later became the first secret radar installation in Alaska. Development continued, and the 1960s brought growth in commercial fisheries and fish processing. The 1964 earthquake and subsequent tidal wave virtually leveled downtown Kodiak. The fishing fleet, processing plant, canneries, and 158 homes were destroyed - $30 million in damage. The infrastructure was rebuilt, and by 1968, Kodiak had become the largest fishing port in the U.S., in terms of dollar value. The Magnusson Act in 1976 extended the U.S. jurisdiction of marine resources to 200 miles offshore, which reduced competition from the foreign fleet, and over time, allowed Kodiak to develop a groundfish processing industry.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Shoonaq' Tribe of Kodiak; Kodiak Island Inter-Tribal Council (tribal contractor). The population of the community consists of 13.1% Alaska Native or part Native. The local culture surrounds commercial and subsistence fishing activities. The Coast Guard comprises a significant portion of the community, and there is a large seasonal population. Kodiak is primarily non-Native, and the majority of the Native population are Alutiiq. Filipinos are a large subculture in Kodiak due to their work in the canneries. A Russian Orthodox Church seminary is based in Kodiak, one of two existing seminaries in the U.S. The Shoonaq' Tribe of Kodiak was federally recognized in January 2001. A branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, Kodiak College is located in the City of Kodiak. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 2,255, and vacant housing units numbered 259. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 32. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 3,159 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 4.98 percent, although 29.63 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $55,142, per capita income was $21,522, and 7.36 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.
Pillar Creek and Monashka Creek Reservoirs provide water, which is stored and distributed by pipe throughout the area. Piped sewage is processed in a treatment plant. All homes are fully plumbed. The piped system has been expanded to Miller Point and Spruce Cape, to replace individual wells and septic tanks in those areas. Refuse collection services are provided by the Borough. The landfill is located 6 miles north of the City, at Monashka Bay. Kodiak Electric Association, a cooperative utility, operates and purchases power from the Four Dam Pool-owned Terror Lake Hydroelectric Facility. It also operates a Coast Guard-owned plant, and owns three additional diesel-powered plants at Swampy Acres, Kodiak and Port Lions. Electricity is provided by Kodiak Electric Association. There are 8 schools located in the community, attended by 2,191 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Alutiiq Health Clinic (907-486-9825); Kodiak Community Health Center (907-481-2484); Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center (907-486-3281); U.S. Coast Guard Rockmore-King Medical Clinic (907-487-5757). Both Hospitals are qualified Acute Care Facilities; The USCG facility provides emergency support only. Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center houses a Long Term Care facility. Kodiak City is classified as a large town/Regional Center, it is found in EMS Region 2G in the Kodiak Region. Emergency Services have limited highway, marine, airport, floatplane and helicopter access. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service and paid EMS Service Auxiliary health care is provided by Kodiak Area Fire & Rescue (907-486-8040/8000).
The Kodiak economy is based on fishing, seafood processing, retail services and government. Adaptability and diversification in a variety of fisheries has enabled the Kodiak economy to develop and stabilize. 665 area residents hold commercial fishing permits, and numerous fish processing companies operate here year-round. The largest processors include Trident, Ocean Beauty, North Pacific, and Western Processors. The hospital and City also rank among the top employers. The largest U.S. Coast Guard station lies just south of the city. The Kodiak Launch Complex, a $38 million low-Earth orbit launch facility on 27 acres, was recently completed at Cape Narrow near Chiniak. The Kodiak Launch Complex, operated by the Alaska Aerospace Dev. Corp., is the only commercial launch range in the U.S. that is not co-located with a federal facility. The KLC launched its first payload in November 1998. In August 2003, Alaska Aerospace Dev. Corp. was awarded an $8 million contract to handle two or three Missile Defense Agency launches in 2003-2004. The Kodiak-launched missiles will be targets, not interceptors. With similar launches planned annually over the next five years, the contract could be worth up to $40 million. The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce provides economic development services to the area (www.kodiak.org).
Kodiak is accessible by air and sea. The State-owned Kodiak Airport provides three asphalt runways. These runways measure: 7,562' long by 150' wide; 5,398' long by 150' wide; and, 5,011' long by 150' wide. Kodiak Municipal Airport offers a 2,475' long by 40' wide paved runway. Three scheduled airlines serve Kodiak with several daily flights, and a number of air taxi services provide flights to other communities on the Island. City-owned seaplane bases at Trident Basin and Lilly Lake serve floatplane traffic. The Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry service to and from Seward and Homer. Travel time to Homer by ferry is 12 hours. The Port of Kodiak includes two boat harbors with 600 boat slips and three commercial piers - the ferry dock, city dock and container terminal. Boat launch ramps and vessel haul-outs are also available. A $20 million breakwater on Near Island provides another 60 acres of mooring space at St. Herman Harbor. The replacement of the 32-year-old float system at the St. Paul Inner Harbor downtown was completed in 2000. Approximately 140 miles of state roads connect island communities on the east side of the island.