United States > Alaska > Sand Point

Sand Point, Alaska

Sand Point, also known as Qagun Tayagungin, is a city in Aleutians East Borough, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 976. It is on northwestern Popof Island, one of the Shumagin Islands, off the Alaska Peninsula. It is the borough seat of Aleutians East Borough, and is near the entrance to the Bering Sea.

The Aleutians East Borough School District is in Southwestern Alaska along the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Chain The District was formed in 1988 from smaller districts that consolidated and formed a Borough with taxing authority. The Borough and District boundaries are the same, and stretch over approximately 15,000 square miles of roadless, mostly treeless tundra, from the middle of the Alaska Peninsula to the north and east, going southwest out to Akutan just east of Dutch Harbor.


Sand Point was founded by a San Francisco fishing company in 1898 as a cod fishing station and trading post. Aleuts and Scandinavians were among the early residents. Gold mining was briefly a part of the economy during the early 1900s. Fishing remains an important industry, as Sand Point is home to one of the largest fishing fleets in the Aleutian Chain.


Almost half the inhabitants are of Aleut descent - mainly from the Qagan Tayagungin tribe, and support themselves by fishing and fish processing. There is a cold storage and fish-processing plant owned and operated by Trident Seafoods and Peter Pan has a support facility. There is an airport with a 5,200 feet (1,600 m) paved runway and daily flights (weather permitting) to Anchorage, 575 nautical miles (1,100 km) to the northeast.

The town is above the treeline, and there is a small herd of 120 bison (first introduced in the 1930s) which provides some meat for the island's inhabitants. It is notorious for the high winds caused by the meeting of cold air flows from the Bering Sea with the warm air over the Japan Current. It has a maritime climate, with temperature averages ranging from −9 to 76 °F (−23 to 24 °C), an average snowfall of 52 inches (130 cm) and an average rainfall of 33 inches (84 cm).

The Russian Orthodox St. Nicholas Chapel was built in Sand Point in 1933.


As of the census of 2000, there were 952 people, 229 households, and 155 families residing in the city. The population density was 122.1 people per square mile (47.1/km²). There were 282 housing units at an average density of 36.2 per square mile (14.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 27.73% White, 1.47% Black or African American, 42.33% Native American, 23.21% Asian, 0.32% Pacific Islander, 2.21% from other races, and 2.73% from two or more races. 13.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 229 households out of which 39.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 20.4% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 41.5% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 3.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 165.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 181.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $55,417, and the median income for a family was $58,000. Males had a median income of $20,000 versus $22,500 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,954. About 10.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 32.1% of those age 65 or over.


Like all of Southwest Alaska, Sand Point has a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc), though compared to most parts of the region it is a little less rainy and has fewer wet days - 145 as against over 220 throughout the Aleutian Islands and in most of Southeast Alaska.


Sand Point is a mixed Native and non-Native community. More than 50% of the permanent residents in Sand Point are known as Aleuts or Unangan. Every July the town hosts a Culture Camp in which Aleut traditions such as dance, sewing Aleut dresses, playing drums, building kayaks, knot tying, and weaving are taught. Culture Camp has an Aleut language component built into the program.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.9 square miles (75 km2), of which, 7.8 square miles (20 km2) of it is land and 21.1 square miles (55 km2) of it (73.05%) is water.


The police department's officers all resigned in 2017. Berett Wilber of KUCB stated "But in Sand Point, struggling to hire and keep officers is the norm."


There is one school, the Sand Point School, operated by the Aleutians East Borough School District (AEBSD).

There are approximately one hundred students in the Sand Point School. In addition to classroom space, the school houses a library media center, gymnasium, weight room, indoor pool and shop. The Sand Point School is part of the Aleutians East Borough School District. The superintendent of the AEBSD is Dr. Doug Conboy and the principal of the Sand Point School is Ralph Lindquist. Circa 1978 the school, then a part of the Aleutian Region School District, had a 13 teachers, and 136 students.


Peninsula Airways (PenAir) offers daily flights from Anchorage to Sand Point at a hefty price to the people. Often it is difficult for people to find themselves a plane ticket off of the island. Sometimes costing $1200 dollars for a round-trip ticket. PenAir having a monopoly over the town has caused them to be able to charge people overpriced tickets.

Cargo service to Sand Point is available on PenAir and Alaska Central Express (ACE) Air Cargo. PenAir has cargo flights to Sand Point six mornings a week. ACE Air Cargo flies to Sand Point several days a week.

During the summer and into the fall, the Alaska Marine Highway operates the Tustumena. The Tustumena stops in Sand Point four times per month. From Sand Point the ferry goes to King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass and Dutch Harbor. The ship has staterooms and dining room service. The ferry takes cars and trucks. Though as of 2017 the ferry had been delayed causing a hindrance for communities all along the chain.

In Sand Point, rental cars are available from the Harbor Cafe and the Marine View Bed & Breakfast.

Sand Point is off the road system.

Wind Power

In 2012, two.5MW wind turbines were installed with blade diameters of 19.5 meters and a height of 59.5 meters.


Many people enjoy hunting for ptarmigan and buffalo. Commercial and pole fishing are enjoyable pastimes for the residents of Sand Point. Boating and riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are popular pastimes as well. There is an annual Silver Salmon Derby in which contestants try to catch the largest fish to earn a cash prize. Adults can play Bingo and pull tabs on Sunday. The Boys and Girls Club offers after-school activities. Many adults spend their time at the local tavern and lounge both owned and operated by the Shumagin Corporation. Due to the small community and the lack of entertainment, many newcomers find themselves leaving. This includes many of the teachers.

Fishing industry

Like most Aleutian communities, commercial fishing drives the local economy. The Aleutians' largest fishing fleet is based in Sand Point. Trident Seafoods has a major Pacific cod, pollock, salmon and halibut processing plant, and provides fuel and other services. Peter Pan Seafoods owns a storage and transfer facility. In 1991, New West Fisheries had a floating processor near the city dock for Pacific cod processing. Residents in Sand Point have to acquire commercial fishing permits to participate in the fisheries.

The city completed a major rehabilitation of the Robert E. Galovin Small Boat Harbor in the summer of 2014. The harbor can hold more than 150 boats in permanent slips, as well as transient vessels. There is also a new boat harbor on the waterfront next to the small boat harbor and City dock. This harbor was built by the Borough and Army Corps of Engineers, but does not have any floats.

Business and shopping

The AC Store (Alaska Commercial Company) provides groceries, apparel, motorized vehicles such as ATVs, and toiletries. Small local stores provide goods like hardware, toys, groceries, and electronics. There is a small selection of restaurants in the town. Alcohol can be purchased at two locations. A bed and breakfast is near the Trident bunkhouses. Cut R' Loose Coffee provides espresso and other specialty drinks to the local community.



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