PO BOX 391
Prince William Sound was occupied by two ethnic groups at the time of
European contact. The Chugach inhabited the coastal area of Prince William
Sound and the Eyak occupied the Copper River delta and west to today’s
Cordova. These two groups were hunter-gatherers and each had distinct
subsistence practices and cultural histories. Interaction between them
and a third group the Ahtna who occupied the Copper River valley existed
in the pre-contact period.
Before European contact, each group used oral tradition to pass their
traditions and cultural values from generation to generation. Early
European and American visitors were interested primarily in trade and
resource extraction, not local culture and history. 20th century professional
ethnographers found aboriginal cultures had undergone significant change
due to interaction with explorers, traders, and prospectors.