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How Did Kodiak Get its Name?

Written by: Posted on: December 31, 1969 at 7:00PMPosted in: Main Topic

The name “Kodiak” was first used on October 20, 1788 by Captain Cook who wrote, “It was from him (Ismyloff) that we got the name Kodiak.” During the 1800’s many spellings of the name were used and “Kadiak” was  adopted as the official name in 1890, but was changed to its present spelling in 1901 because of popular usage. Kodiak, the largest island in Alaska, was the home to 6,500 Alutiiq people at the time of Russian contact. This island, native home to the Kodiak bear, was first discovered by Stephen Glotov in 1763. “Glotof (sic) however, did not land until he reached the last and most Eastward of these islands, called by the inhabitants Kadyak.” (Coxe, 1787, p.141)

According to Bancroft, “Golotof finally anchored on the 8th of September off the coast of the large and mountainous island, called Kikhtak by the Natives, Inuit word for island, but now known as “Kadiak”. At the time (1886), the Natives of the peninsula speak of the Kodiak people as Kikhtagamutes, islanders. The tribal name appears to have been Kaniag and the Russian appellation not in use probably derived from both.” (1886, p.141)


Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, Geological Survey Professional Paper 567  

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