300 Villages: Sand Point

This week, we head to Sand Point, a fishing community of about 1,000 people and the seat of the Aleutians East Borough. It’s also in view of the Pavlof volcano, one of the most active in Alaska. Tiffany Jackson is executive director of the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe in Sand Point.

sand point
The village of Sand Point. Photo by: J Stephen Conn, Flickr Creative Commons

My name is Tiffany Jackson. I’m the executive director for the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point. Sand Point is located on Popof Island in the Shumagin Islands. It’s a small town. I believe the island itself is about 7 by 14 miles; the community is about 1 by 3 miles. Surround by water. Beautiful. God’s country. We do get subject to some severe weather and winds, but for the most part, it’s a beautiful place.

We can see the volcano. When it first was active, in the evenings we were able to see the lava shooting out of the volcano. It’s been a pretty daily experience to see the ash plume. We only have one airline that comes in and out of Sand Point. So I believe it was about a week we didn’t have any flights due to the ash from the volcano. I believe it’s one of the more active volcanoes in the state of Alaska. I remember it being active when I was going to school. I remember the school coming out on the lawn to watch the volcano explode.

It’s a fishing community. I believe most of the families make a living somehow related to the fishery. There are three tribes located in Sand Point. We are the Qagan Tayagungin Tribe of Sand Point, but there’s also the Pauloff Harbor Tribe located here and the Unga Tribe.

We have a Culture Camp that goes on every July, so kids they come to camp and we do bent wood hats, Bering Sea headdresses, full crown headdresses; they make regalia, they sing, they dance, we do traditional foods, we’ve done drum making, they’ve made kayaks in the past, and we’ve taught boating safety and navigation.

It’s a place where you can feel comfortable letting your kids go out to play and not worry too much about them. It’s a real community.

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