Pennington, Feodoria Kallander
1921-2010 | Dena’ina Indian Elder and President, Native Village Corporation of Point Possession, Inc.
Feodoria Kallander Pennington, Dena'ina Indian Elder and matriarch of the village of Point Possession Alaska, was president of Point Possession, Inc., an elected position that she held until retiring at the age of eighty. During the 1960s, she worked with many people in the Kenai and Anchorage area in support of the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (85 Stat. 688). She assisted in gaining tribal recognition and group status for Point Possession village by documenting its history through her testimony in federal court.
Feodoria Kallander Pennington was born on April 21, 1921 at Point Possession (Nicoli Village) on the Kenai Peninsula coast of Cook Inlet, about fifteen miles southwest of Anchorage, to Julius and Cora Kallander. Her father was a Danish emigrant; her mother was Dena'ina Athabascan Indian. She was the granddaughter of Chief Nicoli (who is buried and has a monument at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery). Her grandmother was Doris Nicholai. She had eight younger brothers and sisters: Annie, Mary, Julius, Clara, Gilbert, Peter, Virginia, and Minnie.
Feodoria grew up speaking Dena'ina and learned the subsistence lifestyle of her mother and Dena'ina Athabascan Indian grandparents. "As far back as I could remember the people of the village trapped, hunted, fished and raised vegetables." Her father had a mink farm and also cut timber to make pilings and ties for the Alaska Railroad. They traveled to Anchorage or Kenai occasionally to purchase staples and other supplies. They sold some fish to a cannery boat but smoked, salted, or dried fish for their own use and for their dog team. Feodoria learned the traditional female skills that maintained Dena'ina people: smoking and salting salmon and other meats; sewing and beading blankets, parkas, moccasins, and other articles; and tanning seal skin and smoke tanning moose hides. Because the four oldest children in the family were all females, however, she and her sisters also chopped wood and kindling when needed. She later passed her skills down to her children and grandchildren.
Feodoria also passed down a family story about British explorer Captain James Cook's landing at Point Possession in 1778. On June 1, 1778, laying anchor at what was later called Point Possession, Cook filled a bottle with some coins and documents to claim possession of two arms of water that border the lowlands (and would later be developed into Anchorage) for Great Britain. A landing party, led by Lieutenant James King, disembarked at Tuyqun (Calm Water), which they renamed as Point Possession. They were met by about forty local Dena'ina Indian villagers, displayed the flag, and buried the bottle. It has never been found.
In the early twentieth century, Point Possession was a small community of about fifty persons. The 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic hit it hard. Although numerous residents died, Feodoria's grandmother survived and, like many surviving adults, took in young orphans and cared for them to adulthood. After the influenza outbreak, few people were left in the community and many of the survivors moved away. Only Feodoria's family remained. Later, Feodoria's family suffered a different but similarly devastating affliction in the form of tuberculosis. Her grandfather, grandmother, mother, and an uncle all died from the disease.
At least part of Feodoria's family moved to Anchorage in 1927 so she and her sisters could attend school. She spoke no English until then and stated that it took her two years to learn the new language and adjust to life in Anchorage. White kids, especially boys, sometimes threw rocks at her or called her names, but Feodoria never lost pride in her Native identity. She enjoyed spending summers back at Possession Point. While in Anchorage, her Danish father earned the family's livelihood in Anchorage cutting and selling firewood from a cabin in Spenard.
As an adult, Feodoria worked in canneries and helped her father fishing. She also worked for the Alaska Railroad for five years, then at the Alaska Native Health Service, where she worked in different departments there, including food service. She became a cook and worked in several restaurants in Anchorage, finally retiring from the Hotel Captain Cook where she received awards as employee of the month and of the year. She actively supported Native rights and during the Alaska Native land claims controversy testified in federal court to the Dena'ina history of Point Possession, which helped create the group status of Point Possession village. She was elected president of the Native village corporation of Point Possession, Inc., a position she held until she was eighty.
Feodoria married Robert "Bob" Pennington on November 24, 1963. They had ten children: Roy, Sammy, Betty, Norman, Mary, Sharon, Karen, Jimmy, Bobby, and Cora. She had nineteen grandchildren, twenty-six great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
Feodoria continued even after her retirement to visit Point Possession as often as possible. Of the approximately eight houses that were there during her childhood, most were lost to coastal erosion. Although she witnessed numerous changes in her own life and successfully adapted to the world brought to Alaska by non-Natives, she sustained and passed on the traditional knowledge and skills of Cook Inlet's first inhabitants.
Feodoria Kallander Pennington died on March 24, 2010 at Providence Extended Care Center from complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was survived by her children, Roy Kallander, Sammy Kallander, Betty Kallander Gilcrist, Norman Kallander, Mary Kallander Dougherty, Sharon Kallander Isaak, and Karen Kallander Tollackson. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert "Bob" Pennington, and children Jimmy, Bob, and Cora.
In 2002, the 4,247-acre tract of land owned by Point Possession, Inc. was sold for $3.3 million to the federal government and became part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The purchase was made with federal funds secured by former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. It is an old-growth forest, bordering on 3.5 miles of Cook Inlet, and is an exceptional habitat for brown and black bears, moose, and tundra swans. The Native residents of Point Possession selected this land as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
 Point Possession is a Dena’ina Indian village located southwest of Anchorage, just across from Cook Inlet’s Turnagain Arm. “CIRI Spotlight: Feodoria Kallander Pennington,” http://www.ciri.com/the-matriarch-of-point-possession-feodoria-kallander-pennington-88-died (accessed August 4, 2016).
 Suzi Jones, James A. Fall, and Aaron Leggett, editors, Dena’ina‘ Huch’ Ulyeshi/The Dena’ina Way of Living (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press in association with the Anchorage Museum, 2013), 36. See also, James Kari and James A. Fall, and principal contributor, Shem Pete, Shem Pete’s Alaska: The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina, Second Edition (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2003), 343-347.
 Brad Meikle-John, “Point Possession now part of refuge; Feds buy peninsula land for $3 million,” Peninsula Clarion (Kenai, Alaska), September 4, 2002; http://peninsulaclarion.com (accessed August 4, 2016).
Information for this entry comes from A.J. McClanahan, Our Stories, Our Lives: A Collection of Twenty-three Transcribed Interviews with Elders of the Cook Inlet Region (Anchorage, AK: CIRI Foundation, 2002; reprint of 1986 edition), 22-32. Additional information from Feodoria Kallander Pennington obituary, Anchorage Daily News, March 24, 2010. (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/adn/obituary.aspx?n=feodoria-pennington&pid=141156096) and CIRI Spotlight, "Feodoria Kallander Pennington," June 1, 2010 (http://www.ciri.com/the-matriarch-of-point-possession-feodoria-kallander-pennington-88-died).
No biographical sketch for Feodoria Kallander Pennington was included in John P. Bagoy’s Legends and Legacies: Anchorage 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001). Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012. Note: edited slightly by Bruce Parham, August 4, 2016.
Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, “Pennington, Feodoria Kallander,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.
Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.