What is Kodiak like? Like anywhere, you have to be here to understand, but here’s a brief picture. We have a diverse population. Lots of Coasties (Coast Guard) come and go, with some Navy folk. Those military folks come from all around the country and have an ever changing influence on our community. There are many fishermen, both locals and out of towners. Some are here longterm and some come for a season, or a few seasons. Fishing means canneries and Kodiak has several. They have increased our diversity, bringing in a large Filipino population. There are also El Salvadorans, Samoans, Mexicans, Japanese, and periodically small groups of Ethiopians or Somalis or other nationalities. Next there are the Alaska Natives, from several tribes. The rest of us trickle in for a variety of reasons.
So cultural diversity, which usually means religious diversity. And we have that. Russian Orthodox, Catholic, and a variety of Protestant churches. Many churches and church leaders actively cooperate with each other, and people from these diverse backgrounds work and play together. One of the most beautiful things about Kodiak is fellowship that is shared between groups in the community.
The town is small and the population is largely transient, so people form quick relationships and the community quickly welcomes and integrates newcomers. They are plugged into jobs, church groups, local organizations, and the friendships help compensate for being far away from family. It is a laid back place, where people commonly where Carharts, sweatshirts and Xtra-Tuff boots. Habits from the lower 48 disappear quickly. And since this is Alaska, people tend to be fairly independent, helpful, and outdoorsy. Very outdoorsy.
It’s hard not to be outdoorsy here, the island practically begs you to get out and explore. Small coastal mountains give way to larger mountains in the island’s interior. The mountains hug the coast and are surrounded by beautiful forests. There are birds and animals everywhere. On a given day, you might see sea otters, Kodiak brown bears, bald eagles, orcas, sea lions, grey whales, and much more. Our bears are large and scary, our deer are tiny and cute, our salmon run in every waterway, nature here is always awe inspiring.
People here may love hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, hocky (on a rink), but one way or another they are likely to be active. And to spend time in boats. We have a limited road system, most of the island can only be reached by boat or float plane, though one village is on the ferry route. People often fly to Anchorage for medical appointments or shopping, or ferry to Homer then drive. Both modes of travel are expensive, but at least you are off island for a bit. This matters more for some than others. Kodiak inspires love or hate, few people think it’s just “okay.” I certainly dont. Kodiak is our home now and I love it.