While biogeographers think of the island as a unit (province #14), Xutsnoowú Ḵwáan itself claims only one quadrant. Ecologists apparently favor marine boundaries. To canoe people, rarely visited island crests are more logical dividing lines.

Home of Xóots

Although this hundred-mile long island is not named for an individual, I consider its official map name the ultimate IWGN (important white guy name), honoring a whole roomful of distant dead dignitaries (British Admiralty of the late 1700s). At least its tallest summit—Eagle Peak, 4,650 feet, thumbnail, right) escaped being named for another bureaucrat who never saw it.

By the way, in the interests of equal-opportunity place-name debunking, consider this quote from Harold Jacobs, in a chapter called Xoodzidaa Ḵwáan; inhabitants of the burning wood fort. (Will the time ever come? Hope & Thornton, eds, 2000). Note that x and x̱-underlined are pronounced differently:

“The name Xootsnoowú (“Brown Bear Fort”) is sometimes wrongly interpreted as the name for Angoon Ḵwáan, this having been done by people who, my informants have told me, ‘Do not have a great command of the language or the history of the area.’

Actually, the name comes from xoodzi, (which is burning wood or charred remains) not xoots (brown bear). This confusion with xoots has led to the misnomer, however widely accepted it may be, that the name of the territory means ‘Brown Bears’ Fort.’ It is in fact the Burning Wood Fort. Xootsnoowú, however, is a descriptive name that is often applied to
Admiralty Island.”

Linked resources below give encyclopedic detail for natural and cultural history of this beloved island. For starters, though, consider just this:

What are the logical units in a marine archipelago? Islands themselves, with sea as borders? Or, for us two-leggeds who rarely stray far from coastlines, shouldn’t those remote island crests be considered the borders—with primary fiords as centers? Those sea-centric units, turns out, are called Ḵwáans.

In this section

Teachers visit Angoon

Weekend in Xutsnoowú Aaní On the cusp of March and April, an inspired and inspiring group of teachers, organizers and…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 41 pages

Áak’w to Xutsnoowú cruise

Geopdf for Middle School teachers’ adventure   On Friday, March 31st, 2023, we are scheduled to depart Áak’w Tá, little…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 5MB geopdf

Nature near the schools 1993: Angoon-Chatham powerpoint

Materials from the Eisenhower Math and Science series In March, 1993, with Gustavus master-naturalist Greg Streveler, I gave a site-based…

1993; digitized 2020 | Richard Carstensen & Greg Streveler | 18 MB pptx

Summary manual: 1992-93 workshops

Five districts, Northern & Central Lingít Aaní In the early years of Discovery Southeast (actually named Discovery Foundation back then),…

1993, digitized 2012, uploaded 2023 | Richard Carstensen & Greg Streveler | 88 pages

Repeat photography Part-1: aerials

Retakes field journals, 2005 season Summarizing the Repeat Photography Project, Kathy Hocker and I divided our reports into 2 parts:…

2005; 2nd ed, 2013 | Richard Carstensen & Kathy Hocker | 39 pages

Tsaa T’ei Héen (Admiralty Cove)

‘Lost village’ of Áak’w Kwáan Every Tlingit Kwáan in Southeast Alaska has at least one ‘lost village,’ known in oral history…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 33 pages

Áak’w & T’aakú Aaní: the natural history of resilience

Presentation for Evening at Egan On November 9th, 2018, I gave the second in a series of 4 lectures for…

Nov, 2018 | Richard Carstensen | 36 minutes

2018 flight, Juneau to Klawock

On July 1st, 2018, I flew from Juneau to Klawock in superb photography weather. Beautiful lighting after we passed out…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 44 pages

Sen Brothers in Aangóon

Natural & cultural history of  Xutsnoowú Aaní Because our names both end in “sen,” National Geographic journalist Doug Chadwick began…

2012: updated 2023 | Richard Carstensen | 247 pages, 20MB

Teachers at Kanak’aa (Seymour Canal)

Since 2001, under the initiative of our friend John Neary (then with Admiralty Monument; now at the glacier visitor center),…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 68 pages, 11 MB

1997 fall newsletter. Admiralty impressions: Xutsnoowú through time

Twenty million years on Xutsnoowú, bear fortress (Admiralty Island). Back to the days before glaciers turned it into an island,…

5 | Richard Carstensen | 5 pages

Repeat photography summary report

Documenting change through repeat photography in Southeast Alaska Carefully framed retakes of historical photographs documenting vegetation and landform change in…

2005: 2nd ed, 2013 | Richard Carstensen, Kathy Hocker | 39 pages