Sunday, July 25, 2010

Aleutian Islands: Culture

The indigenous people were more or less invaded by the Russians a few hundred years ago and their culture was strongly affected. The superimposition of western religion is evident practically everywhere, mostly in the form of ornate churches. In a number of places that we visited, the local descendants of the original people put on little shows for us, and it was interesting to see the modern preservation of their ancient history.

The native economy and environment were strongly influenced by the Russians, especially the impacts of the fur trade which developed. In some cases, species -- including the fur seal -- were hunted to near extinction. The subsequent effects on local economies were devastating.

Things may have changed somewhat for the better after the American purchase of Alaska, though many changes to original lifestyles have become permanent. Nowadays, there is ample evidence of modern "mini-invasions" such as the announcement of tourist arrivals that was posted on the store bulletin board and in the assortment of modern products.

Everywhere we went, the people were quite warm and friendly to us. To be honest, I think we provided a little bit of entertainment in this very remote and isolated area!

No comments: