The Kenai 1 river, many uses

Peninsula's lifeblood for centuries

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2004

The Kenai River is many things to many people. People float down it in rafts and zoom up it in motorboats. People build houses on its banks.

Some people get married on it. Others spread the ashes of their departed loved ones on it.

But mostly, the Kenai is about fishing.

When the glaciers retreated after the last Ice Age, salmon found the Kenai and migrated up it to spawn and die.

Ever since, the annual sal-mon migration nourished the land and helped make it habitable for other life, including humans.

Archaeologists have found unique tools called microblades along the upper Kenai, clues that Indians of the Paleo-Arctic Tradition may have been there 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Artifacts of more recent cultures stone ulus, net weights, depressions in the ground where food was cached and houses once stood have been found at every good fishing hole along the river.

Most recently, about 1,000 years ago, the Dena'ina Athabascans settled along the Kenai. Their descendants live there today.

Much has changed through the millennia, and yet, some things go on unchanged.

The Kenai River is still mostly about fishing. May it always be so.

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