The Port of Kake is located in southeastern Alaska's Alexander Archipelago on Kupreanof Island's northwest coast some 55 nautical miles (70 kilometers or 44 miles by air) southeast of the Port of Angoon and about 150 nautical miles (84 kilometers or 52 miles by air) east of the Port of Sitka.
Pronounced like the English "cake," the Port of Kake was home to 710 people as reported in the 2000 Census. The Port of Kake is a Tlingit village where logging, fishing, and subsistence activities dominate the lifestyle. The Port of Kake is the historic home for the Kake Tlingits who controlled the local trade routes.
The Kake tribes experienced clashes with explorers, trappers, and settlers from Europe and Russia through the 1700s and 1800s. In 1869, tensions exploded when a sentry at Sitka shot a Kake native. The Kake then took revenge by killing two traders from Sitka, beginning the Kake War. Three villages, including the Port of Kake, were bombarded and destroyed by the USS Saginaw in reprisal for the deaths of the traders.
While the Kake people survived the attack, they were forced to live with other tribes. For several decades, the Kake did not rebuild their villages. In the last decade of the 19th Century, however, they settled at the current site of the Port of Kake. In 1891, a store, a government school, and a Society of Friends mission were constructed at the Port of Kake, and a post office was added in 1904.
In the early 20th Century, the Kake were the first Alaska Native village that reorganized under federal law. The residents of the Port of Kake then became US citizens. In 1912, a new cannery was built near the Port of Kake. After the end of World War II, timber became an important industry for the Port of Kake.
The federally-recognized Tribal government of the Organized Village of Kake was established in 1947 to serve local natives. The Tribal government provides services that include education and employment assistance training, housing improvements, economic development, social services, counseling, Tribal operations, and realty and natural resources management. The City of Kake was incorporated in 1952.
The Port of Kake is home to a federally-recognized tribe - the Organized Village of Kake, Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and the Central Council of Tlingit. Almost three quarters of the population of the Port of Kake are all or part Native Alaskan.
In 1967, the city commissioned the world's biggest totem pole for the Alaska Purchase centennial celebrations. Carved by Chilkats, the 100-plus foot totem now overlooks the Port of Kake from a high bluff.