Russian researchers will start their ethnographic expedition to the Aleutian Islands, an arc of large and small volcanic islands stretching from Kamchatka to Alaska, the expedition’s head and director of the Ryazan branch of the Russian Geographic Society, Mikhail Malakhov, told reporters on Thursday.
Researchers want to find out how the Russian culture has been preserved in those places.
The Aleutian Islands were discovered by the Russian expedition of explorer Vitus Bering in 1741. For over a century the islands had been remaining under Russia’s jurisdiction and in 1867 were sold together with Alaska to the United States.
Until now the archipelago’s population density is rather scarce - a slightly more than 8,000 people, including around 1,000 of aboriginal people - Aleuts.
The expedition will start its voyage on July 26 on the Kodiak Island, a large island on the south coast of Alaska, separated from the Alaska mainland by the Shelikof Strait. On this island Russian explorer Grigory Shelikhov (Shelikof) established Russia’s first settlement.
The expedition will include 14 Russian researchers from Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Ulyanovsk and Moscow and one American. The expedition is self-financed by its members, who will hire the Savage yacht with the French crew. They plan to explore 64 geographic sites until the middle of September.
“This is the former Russian territory, which no Russian has seen since 1867,” Malakhov said. “As the Aleutian Islands are far from being a thoroughfare, we have chances to explore those places that people had not seen at all for over 100 years.”
“We are studying survival of the Russian culture without its culture bearers in separation from the mainland through such a long timeframe.”
Researchers have not a few grounds for optimism, as their previous expedition led by Malakhov to Alaska in 2009 proved a success.
Mikhail Malakhov said in Alaska’s remotest corners, which no Russian has visited since 1867, the Russian language, the Orthodox religion and folkways have been fabulously preserved.
After the expedition to the Aleutian Islands researchers plan to publish a book and a photo album, and shoot a documentary.