Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Adventures in Chenega Bay

By the time we reach Chenega Bay, we are READY! The departure board tells us we only have a half an hour, but a half an hour is enough to hike to the top of the hill, see the church, take some photos and return. Actually, it took us more than half an hour. It didn’t matter. The ship needed to offload and onload, and the Chenega Bay residents needed their fix of hamburgers and ice cream.

As it turns out – and we should have known this by now – we really had a lot longer. It took a while to load the snow plow and all of its accessories 🙂

Chenega Bay was totally wiped out in a tsunami following an earthquake. Here is what their official site tells us:

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 10.08.10 AM

Chenega IRA Council

PO Box 8079 * Chenega Bay, AK 99574 * 907-573-5132

The Chenega IRA Council is a federally recognized Indian Tribe that serves the Alutiiq people of Chenega Bay, Alaska. The Chenega IRA Council operates a variety of social, cultural and economic development programs designed to enhance the quality of life within Chenega Bay.

Chenega Bay – Description & Location

The village of Chenega Bay is located on Evans Island in Crab Bay, (42) miles Southwest of Whittier in the Prince William Sound. It is one hundred and four (104) air miles southeast of Anchorage. Until the March 27,1964 earthquake, Chenega was an Alutiiq Native tranquil fishing village located on the southern end of Chenega Island in western Prince William Sound. Founded before the Russian arrival in the late 1700s, Chenega was the longest occupied village in Prince William Sound at the time of the earthquake. Moments after the earthquake, a tsunami destroyed all of the buildings in Chenega village with the sole exception of a single home and the village school. Over a third of the village residents were killed and the survivors were taken initially to Cordova and then were later resettled in the village of Tatitlek by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

With the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the former residents of Chenega formed the Chenega Corporation that acquired the right to select 76,093 acres around the old Chenega Village Township. The Alutiiq Natives enrolled in the Chenega Corporation selected their new village site at Crab Bay on Evans Island in the Prince William Sound in March of 1977. This site was carefully chosen following extensive research as the site best able to meet the needs of the residents’ subsistence lifestyle. The Chenega Corporation and the Chenega IRA Council worked together to obtain funding for roads, a water and sewer system, electric generators, a boat and floatplane dock and a school. The new village named Chenega Bay was finally occupied in 1984 following the construction of 21 Housing and Urban Development homes.

Chenega Bay is an isolated community accessible only by air or water. Charter airlines provide the majority of the transportation and the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System provides weekly ferry service year round.

Commercial fishing and subsistence activities are an important part of the lifestyle of the people of Chenega Bay. Commercial employment is primarily with the local school, the Tribal council, health clinic, and commercial fishing.

The primary business area of the village includes village council offices, a community center, the Russian Orthodox church, small boat harbor, the Alaska marine highway ferry terminal, and a future local display facility.

It felt so good to be able to get off and do some hiking. It was also a little overwhelming trying to imagine living in a village this small. Almost all the houses I saw looked exactly alike; maybe the tribe built them all. It is very very small and very isolated, the boat comes in once every week. There are no scheduled airlines, only charters.

00ChenegaBayScenery

00ChenegaBayHarbor

00ChenegaBayAndFerry

00ChenegaBayAndFishingBoat

00ChenegaBayCoastline

00ChenegaBayHarborFromBoat

The Russian Orthodox Church, The Nativity of Theodokos, is very new, and very beautiful. We wondered where people sit? Or maybe there are chairs hidded away that are brought out for services, or brought from across the street at the Indian Affairs office? I always check, I love it that so many of the ikons look native. 🙂

00ChenegaRussianOrthodoxChurch

00InteriorRussianOrthodoxChurch

00ChurchIkons

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This last photo from the church is St. Herman of Alaska. Here is what Wikipedia says:

Saint Herman of Alaska (Russian: Преподобный Герман Аляскинский, c. 1750s – November 15, 1836) was a Russian Orthodox monk and missionary to Alaska, which was then part of Russian America. His gentle approach and ascetic life earned him the love and respect of both the native Alaskans and the Russian colonists. He is considered by many Orthodox Christians as the patron saint of North America.[1]

The patron saint of North America?! Who knew?!

00StHermanOfAlaska

The Johnny Totemoff Museum is sometimes open – not today – and also sells homemade jams made from salmonberry and high mountain cranberries. I would have loved to have some of that! Johnny Totemoff was a local fisherman who always knew where the fish were, and was always coming to the rescue of other in troubled times. I love it that they named the museum after him. (Don’t you wonder how I knew that? On board the ship, they have a notebook at the Purser’s office they put out before you reach each stop. I read about the Totmnoff Museum in the Purser’s book.:-) Now you know.)

00TotenoffMuseum

We loved watching the kids play – two of them were waiting for their father to come off the ship with their ice cream. They reminded me of my mom telling me of all the times she wanted to kill me because I did unsafe things, but oh, what fun!

00ChenegaBayKidsPlayingOnDock

Local transportation:

00ChenegaBayTransportationATV

This is not the Homer otter, this is the Chenega Bay otter, and totally by chance and not by talent, I caught him catching a fish!

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00ChenegaBayOtterCatchesFish

Too soon, it is time to depart.

00DepartingChenegaBay

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September 11, 2013 - Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Photos, Road Trips, Social Issues, Travel, Wildlife, Work Related Issues | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Don’t you think its the best investment America ever made ,buying Alsaka for $7.2 million in 1867 .

    Comment by daggero | September 12, 2013 | Reply

    • LOL, someone had done his homework! I remember learning about this great bargain when I was a child, living in Alaska before it was even a state. It was called “Seward’s Folly” but even so, there was a better bargain, Peter Minuit buying Manhattan Island for $24 worth of beads and mirrors from the local inhabitants.

      Comment by intlxpatr | September 12, 2013 | Reply


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