The city of Valdez lies at the head of Port Valdez (pronounced "val-deez"), a natural fjord that reaches inland about 11 miles from Prince William Sound.
Historically—as well as now—the territory south of Valdez belonged to the Chugach (pronounced "chew-gach") Eskimo, a maritime hunting people. To the north the land is that of the Ahtna, an Athabaskan speaking people of the Copper River Basin. Although it is unclear where there was a native village at one time in Port Valdez, it is certain that the Chugach and Ahtna did use the area for fishing and trading copper, jade, hides and other furs. The Chugach had eight principal village spread throughout the rest of Prince William Sound. Of these, only Tatitlek survives today.