I took this picture in Nikolski, Alaska. Nikolski is the first Aleut village on the Aleutian Chain and is located on Umnak Island. Literally the village borders the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is 900 miles west of Anchorage or about four hours flight time. There are 25-30 people living in Nikolski, almost all of them of Aleut descent.
Nikolski is considered to be the most archeologically important site in Alaska and is the oldest continually inhabited site in North America. There is evidence that Aleuts have been living in the exact village site for over 4,000 years and in the bay for 9,000 years. There are middens, graves mounds, bones, and artifacts everywhere. Most of the houses are built atop of older dwellings. As I walked around the village I would accidentally kick up old fish and seal bones.
The houses are mostly modern, but traditional Aleut sunken houses with sod and driftwood roofs are still standing. You can also see the traditional sweat houses. Everyone lives a subsistence life style which includes caribou, salmon, halibut, seals, sea otters, clams, and wild plants.
Yet with all this history and tradition the first day I walked into the tribal offices everyone was logged on and playing World of Warcraft. In one corner there was a Night Elf priestess. In the other a female dwarf warrior. While one person was trying to find out if her friend from South America was logged on yet. They had a pillaging appointment. It was surreal. Nikolski is truly a place where the new meets the old.
In the picture you can see where the wind had blown out sections of a derelict house, exposing the old spring bed and other house furnishings from the early 1900’s. You can also see the Chaluka Hotel in the background. It was the comfortable double wide where I have spent many a windy night.