Thursday, 11 September 2008

in SITKA, Alaska

for those that have just joined in, I am still on my journey thru Alaska - July 2008 !!

arriving in SITKA on Tuesday July 15 2008 on board the M/V Kennicott.

Sitka is thought to be the most beautiful of southeast Alaska cities. Nestled on the west side of Baranof Island, it is flanked on the east by majestic snow-capped mountains, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. On the website is says: Our climate is mild, but we do get more than our fair share of "liquid sunshine"! Our most valuable natural resource is, without a doubt, the people of Sitka, who share a pride in their home and a love of life in all its small-town splendor!!!

From the founding of Russian America in 174l, sporadic, informal attempts were made to Christianize the Natives. In 1794, 200 years ago, the Russian Orthodox Church established its first mission in North America, at Kodiak Island in southeastern Alaska. and, in 1799, appointed the first American Bishop. By 1808 the capital was moved to Novoarkhangelsk (Sitka), where in 1848 the Cathedral of St. Michael was built, the seat of the Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands, and Alaska -- a vast expanse stretching over 2,000 miles. This "Golden Age" of the Orthodox Church in Alaska ended with the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867.

The story of the many remarkable priests and monks who served the Church in Alaska, recounted in a number of valuable journals in the Church Archives, is one of incredible achievements against often overwhelming odds. They contended daily with bitter cold and deep snows, traveling by dogsled to attend their widely dispersed parishes. The constant lack of essential resources led them to sell candles and books, and to sometimes sacrifice their own salaries to meet parish expenses. Not the least troublesome was the gnawing competition from shamans for the souls of the Natives, exacerbated by the need for Natives to abandon church and school for long periods in order to survive -- by hunting and fishing. Despite the sale of Alaska to the United States, and the incursion of other sectarian groups, Catholic and Protestant, the Russian Orthodox priests continued their mission, leaving an indelible mark upon the culture of the Native Alaskans, visible even today.

other views of SITKA following....

..... and with all the cruise liners + tourists coming in, one has the "tourist shops", all the same with the same traps and the same merchandise!!

as seen below:

next posting: on our way to KETCHIKAN via Petersburg and Wrangell....


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