Every year, Chenega Corporation observes Chenega Day to honor the past and future of the Chenega People.
The people of the Chenega Tribe have lived in the Alaskan Prince William Sound for more than 10,000 years, living off the abundance provided by the waters of the sound and land. On March 27, 1964, a 9.2 earthquake hit the Alaskan coastline and sent a massive tsunami into the heart of the peaceful Chenega Village. The tsunami washed away centuries of history and catastrophically destroyed the village. More than 1/3 of the Chenega people lost their lives that day, which was the highest percentage of loss of life of any community in the earthquake. With the village gone, the surviving Chenega People relocated to Tatitlek, Cordova, and Anchorage Alaska.
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For 20 years the Prince William Sound remained uninhabited. No new structures or homes were built until 1984 when a group of former villagers came together and established the village of Chenega Bay on Evans Island, in Prince William Sound.
The Chenega People begin to rebuild their lost village when tragedy struck again. In 1989—25 years to the day after the tragic tsunami—the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound. Millions of gallons of oil spilled into the ocean and onto the beaches of the newly established Chenega Village. The spill heavily damaged the natural environment and wildlife while wiping out the Chenega People’s sole means of livelihood—commercial fishing.
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Through faith, fortitude, and perseverance, the Village of Chenega Bay has steadily rebuilt and developed. The Chenega People have overcome devastation and tragedy to create a thriving community, and the Chenega Corporation is honored to be a part of it. On Chenega Day, we honor the courage and strength of the Chenega People and remember the lives lost in 1964.
Learn more about the story of the Chenega People and the Chenega Corporation.