Aleutians East Borough

September 20, 2008 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Alaska, Community, History | Leave a comment
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I found by chance a website about some Aleutian villages in Alaska, called the Aleutians East Borough. They have a lot of municipal (school, jobs, the pipeline…) and economical information, as well as some historical facts that I resumed here:

Aleutians East Borough

Akutan, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove, Nelson Lagoon, Sand Point

Stretching from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula to the easternmost Aleutian Islands, the Aleutians East Borough is like no other place on earth.This is a wild, dramatic region bordered on one side by the North Pacific Ocean and the other by the Bering Sea. It has been home to generations of Aleut families since the Second Ice Age.Today, the region is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, warm, generous people and the rich diversity of seafood found in the waters around it.



The History of Akutan

Akutan churchAkutan was formed in 1878 when a number of Aleut families from surrounding islands established a village at this location. The Russian Orthodox Church supported this move and constructed a church at the site. Western Fur and Trading Co. built a fur storage and trading post, and its resident agent started a cod fishing business in the village. In 1912 the Pacific Whaling Company built a processing station, which operated until 1939.

Akutan’s proximity to the Bering Sea fishing grounds brought the crab and fish processing industry to the community in the late 40s, at first through the operation of floating processors, followed in the early 1980s by construction of a shore-based processing plant owned by Trident Seafoods.

The History Of Cold Bay

The Cold Bay area, near the southern edge of the Bering Land Bridge, probably played an important role in the migration of Asiatic people to North America during the last Ice Age. Recent archeological surveys have found the presence of numerous ancient refuse heaps, which suggest large populations of Native Aleut people at one time inhabited the area.During the coastal explorations by Europeans, Russian ships wintered in Bechevin Bay, about 40 miles west of Cold Bay. Count Feodor Lutke bestowed the name “Izembek” on the region in 1827 in honor of Karl Izembek, the surgeon aboard the sloop “Moller”. During the 1800s and early 1900s, subsistence hunters and trappers visited Cold Bay.The Japanese invasion of the Aleutians Islands during World War II stimulated the rapid construction of a series of American strategic bases. One of them was Fort Randall, a large air base built on the shores of Cold Bay in 1942. At the height of the Aleutian campaign, thousands of troops were stationed at Fort Randall. The base was abandoned after the end of the war, but the landscape still bears witness to its military history in the form of a myriad of roads, historical sites and, most importantly, its airport runways.

History of False Pass

False Pass man The Aleut name for the community is “Isanax,” which means “The Pass.” Shallow waters and the narrowness of the channel caused the village and strait to be called False Pass, but it is indeed a major throughway between the North Pacific and the Bering Sea for all but the largest vessels.

Originally homesteaded by William Gardner in the early 1900’s, the village began to grow when P.E. Harris established the first seafood cannery in False Pass in 1917. Many of the original buildings came from a cannery that was abandoned in Morzhovoi Bay, about 30 miles away. Natives immigrated from Morzhovoi, Sanak Island and Ikatan when the cannery was built. A post office was established in 1921. The cannery operated continuously, except for 1973 – 1976, when two hard winters depleted fish resources. It was eventually purchased by Peter Pan Seafoods and dominated the economy of the town for decades.

In 1981 most of the plant was consumed in a huge fire, although some buildings and facilities remain. Peter Pan still plays a vital role in the community with its private dock, fuel sales, and store. For more than 20 years the False Pass Tribal Council governed the community. Now a second class city, False Pass incorporated in 1990.

King Cove Description and History

The first recorded settler at the cove was a man named Robert King, who lived there in the 1880s. In 1911, Pacific American Fisheries built a large cannery and employed Aleut and other Native peoples, Asian workers, and Scandinavian workers. Many Native people came from the villages of Belkofski, Sanak and False Pass. The community incorporated as a first class city in 1947. Peter Pan Seafoods is the successor to PAF. The cannery has been operating since 1911 (it burned in the 1970s but was immediately rebuilt). It is the largest salmon cannery in North America and also processes crab, bottom fish, herring, and other fish year round. A dozen traditional use hunting and trapping camps have been noted around the shores of Cold Bay and Kinzarof Lagoon, dating from the first half of the twentieth century.

History of Sand Point

Sand Point was officially settled in 1887. The Lynde and Hough Company of San Francisco set up a supply station and cod fishing station on Humboldt Harbor. The town that grew up around this station adopted the name Sand Point. Aleuts from surrounding villages and Scandinavian fishermen were the first residents of the community. These influences can still be seen in the names and faces of Sand Point residents

Sand Point served as a repair and supply center for gold mining during the early 1900’s, but fish processing became the dominant activity in the 1930’s. The St. Nicholas Chapel, a Russian Orthodox church, was built in 1933 and is now on the National Register of Historical Places.

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Tunngasugitti, and Welcome to Nunavut!

August 24, 2008 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Canada, History, Organization | 1 Comment
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More facts about Nunavut from a PDF document of their site.

GOVERNMENT OF NUNAVUT
Tunngasugitti, and Welcome to Nunavut!
Our Land

Nunavut (the Inuktitut word for “our land”) was created April 1, 1999 as a result of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. For millennia a major Inuit homeland, Nunavut today is a growing society that blends the strength of its deep Inuit roots and traditions with a new spirit of diversity.

It is a territory that spans the two million square kilometres of Canada extending north and west of Hudson’s Bay, above the tree line to the North Pole. With landscapes that range from the flat muskeg of the Kivalliq to the towering mountain peaks and fiords of North Baffin, it is a Territory of extraordinary variety and breathtaking beauty.

With a median age of 22.1 years, Nunavut’s population is the youngest in Canada. It is also one of the fastest growing; the 2001 population of just under 29,000 represents an increase of eight per cent in only five years. Inuit represent about 85 percent of the population, and form the foundation of the Territory’s culture. Government, business and day-to-day life are shaped by Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, the traditional knowledge, values and wisdom of Nunavut’s founding people.

Our 26 communities range in size from tiny Bathurst Inlet (population 25) to Iqaluit, the capital (population almost 6,500). Grise Fiord, the northernmost settlement, lies at 78 degrees north: the hamlet of Sanikiluaq in the Belcher Islands is actually further south than Ontario’s northern border. None are accessible by road or rail; everything, from people to fuel to food, arrives by plane or sealift. This physical isolation accounts for the highest cost of living in Canada, reflected in prices throughout the Territory.

The largest employer in Nunavut is government – federal, territorial, and municipal. But new jobs are rapidly emerging in the mining and resource development sectors. Important growth is also occurring in the tourism sector, in fisheries, and in Inuit art such as carvings and prints.

The realization of Nunavut’s full economic potential will, in part, be contingent upon the improvement of the territory’s infrastructure. Existing housing, sewage and waste management, transportation and telecommunications systems are already stretched beyond their limits, and will come under even greater pressure from Nunavut’s growing population.

With four languages (Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French), an area one-fifth the size of Canada, and a population density of one person per 70 km sq., the creation of Nunavut has called for innovative approaches to the delivery of virtually every aspect of government programs and services.

From health to education, from justice to the structure of the Legislative Assembly, the institutions and structures that define Nunavut are designed to meet the needs of a unique people in a unique land.

The challenges are many; but in partnership with Canada, and building on the strength and energy of its people, Canada’s newest Territory looks to the future with confidence and hope.

So it seems that I have been missing one language, Inuinnaqtun. And I do not know if there are more non-official languages. And I also have to look for more information about the Cree people, I do not know if they share the same territories or not. So homework for the next days!

Avataq Cultural Institute

August 6, 2008 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Canada, History, Language, Organization, Traditions | Leave a comment
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Yesterday I found this interesting website from Avataq Cultural Institute:

Avataq Cultural Institute

Avataq Cultural Institute provides a strong foundation for the living culture of today’s Inuit. Since its inception in 1980, Avataq has built a solid reputation as the cultural leader for Nunavik Inuit and as an important resource for Inuit culture in Canada and beyond. Our goal is to ensure that Inuit culture and language continue to thrive into the future, so that our descendants can benefit from the rich heritage passed down to us through the wisdom of our ancestors.


About Us

Founded in 1980, Avataq Cultural Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the language and culture of Inuit in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). The organization has its head office in Inukjuak, Nunavik, and an administrative office in Westmount, Quebec.

Avataq receives its mandate directly from Nunavik Inuit at the biennial Nunavik Inuit Elders’ Conferences. Avataq has a board of directors comprising five Inuit members elected for two-year terms.

The programs and services of the Avataq Cultural Institute include: an Inuktitut promotion and preservation program, a genealogy program, a Nunavik museums program, a Nunavik Inuit art collection, an archaeology department, an artists’ support program, a documentation and archives centre, local cultural committees, traditional skills courses, as well as a research and publications service.

Through its language, heritage and cultural programs, the Avataq Cultural Institute is striving to support and preserve Inuit culture for present and future generations.

I have a photographic day, as you see 😉 I copied a lot of nice photos they have on their website. They have a very very interesting section about the Inuit in Nunavik, as well as maps. This will be for another post tonight! As an extra, you can download the Inuktitut fonts for your computer too! The link is here!

… and a bit more about Kamchatka

August 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Posted in History, Siberia | Leave a comment
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I am having a very bad week, but I just wanted to post some info I found the other day,  when I was searching stuff from Kamchatka. This comes from Social Geography of Kamchatka:


The Koryak Autonomous Okrug is supposedly the homeland for Koryaks, who are traditionally from the Kamchatka Peninsula and the surrounding mainland. Actually Itelmens, Chukchi, and Evens have also been indigenous to the area for centuries as well.

Before the Soviets closed the region after World War II, Kamchatka was a regular stop for trading ships from the United States, Japan, Canada, and many European countries. When I visit the smaller villages, where most of the population is native, elders love to tell me about all the great stuff their parents bought from Americans. Men tell me about Winchesters, knives, and animal traps. Women sometimes show me tea kettles which have become family heirlooms.

Yeltsin opened the closed region in 1991, and it is quickly integrating into the Pacific Rim social and economic region. Local authorities prefer to keep a tight leash on foreigners, however, and travel around Kamchatka and the surrounding mainland (Magadan Oblast and Chukotka Okrug) is complicated, or worse, when you don’t have all your documents in order. No matter what the local consulate or embassy tells you, you will need the names of the major towns that you plan to visit on your visa. If you want a year-long, uninterrupted stay in Kamchatka, you need a multi-entry visa. Standard, three-month visas will be renewed only for three additional months in Kamchatka, no matter what. I recommend contacting my favorite Kamchatkan travel agent, KamchatIntour, for the latest information on travel in Kamchatka.

The Koryak Autonomous Region (Okrug) is located in the northern part of the peninsula and includes part of the surrounding mainland. It is about the size of Arizona with a population of about 35,000 people. Only one-fifth of those are Koryaks. Chukchi, Itel’mens, and Evens constitute the other native groups in the Regions, but Russians and Ukrainians make up over 75% of the total population. A steady emigration of non-natives back to their homes in the European part of the former Soviet Union has changed these number since the 1989 census, but reliable current statistics are not available.

The Region is divided into four districts or counties (rayoni): Tigil, Karaga, Oliutor, and Penzhina. The Regional capital, Palana, is the largest town with about 4000 people. Karaginskii District, capital Ossora, is the most populous and developed area. The northern districts of Penzhinskii and Oliutorskii have the most indigenous people who still use their traditional language in everyday life.

Well, a bit more of information. It says that they still use their traditional language in everyday life, this is crucial! So good news from Kamchatka!

To stop or not to stop…

March 24, 2008 at 10:54 pm | Posted in History, Japan, Naming | Leave a comment
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In Japan! A month ago I read in a Lonely Planet Magazine that in Japan there was an indigenous group called Ainu, who came from Siberia. It was a cool surprises, as I liked the idea of stopping in Japan. But now I’m a bit confused, as the Wikipedia says the origin of this group is not clear at all. And it seems it is not going to be clear in the immediate future years, actually:

The origins of the Ainu have not been fully determined. They have often been considered Jomon-jin, natives to Japan from the Jomon period. “The Ainu lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came” is told in one of their Yukar Upopo (Ainu legends). Ainu culture dates from around 1200 CE and recent research suggests that it originated in a merger of the Okhotsk and Satsumon cultures.Their economy was based on farming as well as hunting, fishing and gathering.

Ainu men generally have dense hair development. Many early investigators proposed a Caucasian ancestry, although recent DNA tests have found no traces of Caucasian ancestry. Genetic testing of the Ainu people has shown them to belong mainly to Y-haplogroup D. The only places outside of Japan in which Y-haplogroup D is common are Tibet and the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.In a study by Tajima et al. (2004), two out of a sample of sixteen (or 12.5%) Ainu men were found to belong to Haplogroup C3, which is the most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among the indigenous populations of the Russian Far East and Mongolia; Hammer et al. (2005) tested another sample of four Ainu men and found that one of them (1/4 or 25%) belonged to haplogroup C3. Some researchers have speculated that this minority of Haplogroup C3 carriers among the Ainu may reflect a certain degree of unidirectional genetic influence from the Nivkhs, with whom the Ainu have long-standing cultural interactions.According to Tanaka et al. (2004), their mtDNA lineages mainly consist of haplogroup Y (21.6%) and haplogroup M7a (15.7%). A recent reevaluation of cranial traits suggests that the Ainu resemble the Okhotsk more than they do the Jomon.This agrees with the reference to the Ainu culture being a merger of Okhotsk and Satsumon cultures referenced above.

Some have speculated that the Ainu may be descendants of a prehistoric race that also produced indigenous Australian peoples. In Steve Olson’s book Mapping Human History, page 133, he describes the discovery of fossils dating back 10,000 years, representing the remains of the Jōmon, a group whose facial features more closely resemble those of the indigenous peoples of New Guinea and Australia. After a new wave of immigration, probably from the Korean Peninsula, some 2,300 years ago, of the Yayoi people, the pure-blooded Jōmon were pushed into northern Japan. Genetic data suggest that modern Japanese are descended from both the Yayoi and the Jōmon.

In the late 20th century, much speculation arose that people of the group related to the Jomon may have been one of the first to settle North America. This hypothesis is based largely on skeletal and cultural evidence among tribes living in the western part of North America and certain parts of Latin America. It is possible that North America had several peoples among its early settlers – these relatives of the Jomon being one of them. Kennewick Man is also cited at times as supporting this hypothesis.

Groundbreaking genetic mapping studies by Cavalli-Sforza have shown a sharp gradient in gene frequencies centered in the area around the Sea of Japan, and particularly in the Japanese Archipelago, that distinguishes these populations from others in the rest of eastern Asia and most of the American continent. This gradient appears as the third most important genetic movement (in other words, the third principal component of genetic variation) in Eurasia (after the “Great expansion” from the African continent, which has a cline centered in Arabia and adjacent parts of the Middle East, and a second cline that distinguishes the northern regions of Eurasia and particularly Siberia from regions to the south), which would make it consistent with the early Jōmon period, or possibly even the pre-Jōmon period.

Jomon and Yayoi are Japanese periods. A lot of new information here, I have looked for the words in bold too:

The Nivkhs (also Nivkh, Nivkhi, or Gilyak; ethnonym: Nivxi; language, нивхгу – Nivxgu) are an indigenous ethnic group inhabiting the northern half of Sakhalin Island and the region of the Amur River estuary administered by Russia. Nivkh were mainly fishermen, hunters, and dog breeders. The Nivkh were semi-nomadic living near the coasts in the summer and wintering inland along streams and rivers to catch salmon. The land the Nivkh inhabit is characterized as Taiga with cold snow-laden winters and mild summers with sparse tree cover. The Nivkh are believed to be the original inhabitants of the region deriving from a proposed Neolithic people migrating from the Transbaikal region during the Late Pleistocene.

The Nivkh suffered heavily from foreign influences, the first of which was the migration of the Tungusic peoples; latter Manchu and Chinese dynasties forced tribute upon its people. In the late 19th century, Russian Cossacks annexed and colonized Nivkh lands, where they are a small, often neglected, minority today. Today, the Nivkh live in Russian-style housing and with the over-fishing and pollution of the streams and seas, they have adopted many foods from Russian cuisine. The Nivkh practice shamanism, which is important for the winter Bear Festival, though some have converted to Russian Orthodoxy.

They number 5,287 (2002 Russian Federation census). Most speak Russian today, though about 10 percent speak their indigenous Nivkh language, which is considered an isolate language, though for convenience grouped with the Paleosiberian languages. The Nivkh language is divided into four dialects,though they are sometimes grouped with the nearby Chukotko-Kamchatkan and Altaic languages.

I haven’t found anything for Okhotsk and Satsumon. Everything is pretty confusing right now. Maybe I will have to take more things into account, such as way of living, religious believes, or material culture. Lets see what came then.

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