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Four-wheelers are the small, open, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that provide transportation in Kodiak’s Alutiiq communities. Because it is both difficult and expensive to ship a full-sized car or truck to a remote village, many residents choose to purchase these sturdy, fuel-efficient bikes. Visit Ouzinkie or Larsen Bay and you will see people transporting luggage to the airport, hauling firewood, taking children to school, and recreating with their four-wheelers.
Although many people refer to their bikes by brand names like Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, Alutiiq Elders developed the word kaararuangcuq for four-wheeler. This term literally means “kind of like a little car.” Another word used by some Elders is masiinakliitarpak, meaning “big motorcycle.”
Four-wheelers are an essential part of modern village life, but older residents remember the days before the machines arrived. They note that four-wheelers have changed rural living. Not only is it much noisier with the bikes around, but people get less exercise. Men who used to walk miles to hunt now ride their bikes. They may get to travel farther and stay out longer, but they aren’t in as good physical shape and they don’t necessarily do better at hunting. The noise of the bikes can scare away game.
Source: Alutiiq Museum