Author Archives: Morgan Potvin

Blog 5

Angoon, AK

Throughout Alaska’s vast land lies a small city on Admiralty Island named Angoon, which is also known as the “Fortress of Brown Bears”. The only permanent settlement on the island, just south of Juneau, has a declining population of 523 people. Although it has a low population, it has the densest population record for brown bears and eagles throughout the entire state. This community is based on the rich Native Tlinglit culture that has seeped Alaska’s roots for decades relying on the commercial fishing and subsistence lifestyle. Given this, the area is surrounded by the pure nature of the Tongass National Forest, which is proclaimed to remain as an undeveloped wildlife sanctuary home to many tree and wildlife species. None the less, the Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States, and is also one of the biggest tools used in confronting climate change. 

On the spectrum, the community is much smaller than the wildlife ratio. Among the families, there are less than 20 homes where they paint indigenous tribal art for everyone to see. Upon using natural resources, water is scarce sometimes as well, as their water is provided by the Tillinghast Lake reservoir. Luckily, most of their homes have complete plumbing, so the water treatment plant is able to pipe water through the community. As demand for many goods and services are very low, they only have access to one general store, but no restaurants or shops other than that one store. Education is low, as well transportation. When it comes to transportation, most families own one car per household, and since the area is so small, the majority of people living in Angoon walk to their destination. In retrospect, the average employee in Angoon has three times less of a commute than the average employee in the United States. As quoted on the Law Earth Center, they state, “The median property value in Angoon, AK is $140,000, and the homeownership rate is 57.4%. Most people in Angoon, AK commute by walked, and the average commute time is 8.38 minutes. The average car ownership in Angoon, AK is 1 car per household.” There is only one way to get to Angoon, which is by boat or plane, in which Alaska offers a floatplane daily that travels between Juneau and Angoon. Due to this, there is very limited supply of goods, including food. Since Angoon is sometimes a desired place for tourists, they are advised to stock up on goods before leaving Juneau. 

In comparison to other southern islands in Alaska, Angoon receives far less precipitation levels than the rest. When Angoon became settled, Native Tlinglit took the lower rain levels to their advantage as fur trade was their main drive in the economy throughout the 1800’s until mid 1900’s. Once this trade began to fade, Angoon relied on the fishing industry for their economy and own subsistence. The climate in Angoon is described by having cool summers (ranging from 45-61 degrees) and mild winters (ranging from 25-39 degrees). The winters have had records in the past with very strong winds causing rough seas that affect the settlement. Because Angoon’s economy is based on the coastal water, there are many variables that are taken into place. Naturally, seafood production and consumption have increased significantly.

The economy of Angoon employs a total of 292 people in industries such as manufacturing, mining & oil & gas extraction, along with fishing and hunting. Although, this aspect is being hit hard by mining companies elsewhere. The Green Creaks Mining Company has encroached the land of the Hawks Inlet, infesting it by dumping their waste in the water. This has raised the issue of health concerns in the seafood. Dangerous minerals are leaked into the water, putting a huge risk to marine life and those who live off of the coastal waters. Of course this mine is essential to most of Alaska’s economy, but it is directly impacting Angoons sea life, and those who are ingesting the seafood with extremely high levels of bad minerals like mercury. 

Yet, the biggest question concerning Angoon is what is being done about the excess mineral waste flowing in the water. As the mines have been requested to clean up their messes, instead they paid the fines issued to them and ignored the requests. Due to this, Alaska Natives have come together to create The Angoon Community Association and put a stop to this before they reap the drastic measures this could create for the future. The Native tribes deserve the land and feel comfortable fishing for their own food as well as selling it. All in all, Angoon has been self reliant for years. Now that the fishing industry is so large and in demand, they need to address this issue at hand as this could collapse their economy. In the best efforts, Law Earth for Angoon describes this fight, “the people of indigenous demand retribution for not only themselves, but the land that has been abused, ask for representation in future projects relating to their territory or resource, and have the right to their traditional culture”.

Blog 5

Angoon is located in the southeast of Alaska. To Angoon’s northeast 55 miles is Juneau and to their southwest 41 miles is Sitka. Angoon is on Admiralty Island, with the Gulf of Alaska on the western shore and the Kootznahoo Inlet on the eastern shore. The land area is 22.5 square miles with 16.1 square miles of water. Angoon is part of the southeast climate zone. Here they experience cool summers, more mild winters, and heavy precipitation, though Angoon tends to experience a little less rain than most other areas. The temperature low for Angoon is -6 degrees Fahrenheit and the high is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Angoon experiences warmer climate than most other parts of Alaska, there is rarely permafrost as it only occurs sporadically throughout the southeast. This settlement is a hypermaritime forest in the middle of the Tongass National Forest in a temperate coastal ecoregion.   In the winters, Angoon gets heavy northern winds, which create rough waters and hazardous landing circumstances for aircrafts.


Blog 5B

The indigenous people of this area are the Kootznahoo Tlingit who has been there for over 1,000 years. Angoon is a sustenance fishing community. Fishing and fish processing are the main industry in Angoon. Tourism is another industry here, though there is only one hotel with 8 rooms. The national forest is home to 1,600 brown bears, one of the densest brown bear populations in the world, and offers many fishing locations throughout Angoon. Angoon is only accessible by ferry or floatplane. Their electricity comes from a diesel generator, though they have been looking into non-diesel sources to cut down on electricity costs for residents. Angoon Oil and Gas sell gas at $4.55/gal and heating fuel for $4.34/gal. Angoon’s primary water source is surface water.

Natural Hazards of Alaska’s Arctic Circle

Alaska is considered to be one of the most hazardous states, given its vast wilderness and isolated tundra. Many areas in Alaska have never-ending hazards throughout the state. Yet, one of the most dangerous areas in Alaska is the  Arctic Circle and the Dalton highway that travels nearly 414 miles long. The Alaskan Arctic Circle is a unique place that carries one of the worlds most extreme climates. If you are to ever visit, there are several precautions to take.

The windy and unpaved road to the Circle is very treacherous as many people do not take it seriously. The Dalton highway is one of the lonliest highways in America, that also does not carry cell phone service. In the dead of winter, it is always dark and blistering cold hitting nearly 80 below at its coldest. Originally, it was constructed for the Alaskan Pipeline, as it is also the famous road featured on Ice Road Truckers.  I have personally driven to Circle with my dad several times. The road conditions are awful, as I have noticed many memorial placings on the side of the road where people have died.

Blog #2 Potvin

Figure 2.1 This map depicting the route of the Harriman Expedition in 1899 is quite interesting to look at. Since they sailed from Washington, you notice that most of their recordings are in the southern parts such as the islands, Valdez, and Homer areas. This acknowledges that far most of Alaska was not explored at this time due to the little information given on the interior or northern parts as written “Great Marshes”. I also like this map because it reminds me how close Russia is to Alaska. The art on this map is also nice to look at.

Figure 2.4 This map is an eye opening map. Although I did not see a description on this map, you can see that native settlement has populated most of Alaska. As natives have placed their origins in Alaska, from the far north to the farthest south, the map indicates that most settlements run along the rivers. This is probably for various reasons such as being close to a major food source, water source, and even for travel/trade.

Figure 2.5 This map is by far my favorite map to study. First of all, most maps we regularly see do not show how big the state of Alaska truly is. Although we are separated from the rest of the 48 States, it should not go unrecognized. As the reading states, in size Alaska is 17% of what the United States. It is crazy to think you can drive through three different states in the same time it takes to get from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Our land mass is huge sitting at 591,000 square miles!

Figure 2.8 This map is not enjoyable to look at. I dislike how it distorts the polar regions making the map look very stretched out and disproportionate. This makes it harder to not only read a map but also have a clear perspective on how places are shaped and distance relevance.


My name is Morgan, my friends call me Morgs. This is my second year attending UAF as a full-time student, and for the first time I am genuinely excited about all of my classes! I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, yet I moved to Fairbanks when I was young. I grew up living in a small cabin in Chatanika, located 30 miles north of Fairbanks. The cabin, where my dad still lives, sits  right on the Chatanika River. It made me appreciate living in nature much more. I’ve been living in town for several years now, which is much more convenient on gas. During the summer I love exploring throughout the state of Alaska. My dad and I take a fishing trip to Valdez yearly which feeds us for most of the year. I have friends and family that live in Homer, make sure to walk the spit if you ever get the chance to go it is so beautiful.

I wish you all a good semester and happy new year!