Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kachemak Selo, Homer trip day 1

Near Homer, Alaska is a unique community of expatriate Russians whose ancestors refused to conform to changes in their traditional Orthodox religion.

After almost 16 generations of seeking places to live where they could preserve their culture, they purchased land in Alaska and the first families arrived in 1968. They called their settlement Nikolaevsk. Alaskan neighbors refer to it as "Russian Village."

In 1975, the first group of these "Old Believers" became citizens of the United States in naturalization ceremonies at Anchor Point School.

Since then, religious and cultural concerns have prompted some families to leave Nikolaevsk to form new communities. Kachemak Selo and other small villages have sprung up at the head of Kachemak Bay.

Most Old Believer men are commercial fishermen and many of the women work in the fish processing plants. Villages also build boats for themselves and for non-Old Believers.

Women and girls wear full skirts and scarves, the men, embroidered shirts, cinched at the waist with woven belts. Russian is still spoken here.

Students of the middle / high school found an imature Bald Eagle in January with a broken wing. USF&W sent us the bird and it became our first eagle intake of 2007 (BE 07-1). The bird recovered well and Ruth and I returned it to Kachemak Selo to release it with the students.

Principal Randy Creamer picked Ruth and I up in Homer and took us on a 45 minute ride. We were joined by Adam from the Homer News. The last 4 miles the road was all dirt and gravel. Kachemak Selo is located on the beach near Fritz Creek. The road into the comunity was extremly step and winding requiring four wheel drive vehicles only. The road is not maintained by the state. During the winter Randy and other teachers use four wheelers to get to the school because the road is too icey for vehicles. Ruth, Adam, the Bald Eagle and I went on a heck of a ride.

Freedom as the bird had become known to them was welcomed back with large banners and about 50 students and their teachers. All were very excited for Freedoms return and soon to be release.

The release went off slow and then turned really exciting. Freedom jumped out of the kennel and just looked around. Ruth walked up with a blanket and he took off flying. He got the crowd even more excited when he did several turns to fly past the crowd a couple of times before he flew off.

Thanks to the students and teachers of Kachemak Selo for being so kind to Freedom and allowing us into the community to return Freedom to his home. Sorry the pic's are so light. Trying to get use to a new camera.

Link to origonal story.

Link to release video.

To be continued.........

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