If you’re ever on the Bering Sea near Alaska’s King Island and manage to see through the thick fog, you might be met with a strange view. Clinging to the side of the island’s steep cliff face on hundreds of stilts is the abandoned village of Ukivok. This was once home to a substantial population of Inupiat people called the Aseuluk, or “people of the sea.”
This was once the winter home of about 200 Aseuluk people, a hunting and gathering society that called Alaska’s rugged cliffs home.
This is a photograph of Ukivok in 1892, when it was still a bustling community.
The Aseuluks’ time on King Island reached a bitter end in the middle of the 20th century. At that time, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs forcibly removed the community’s children and placed them in schools on the mainland. This left only the adults to gather the food they’d need to survive the winter, and left them with no choice but to move to the mainland to make a living. By 1970, Ukivok was completely deserted.
Today, only these hollow-eyed buildings remain as a testament to the history of Ukivok.
The Aseuluk people, though they’ve relocated, still maintain a strong cultural identity and continue to live a lifestyle much like the one they had on the island. But for many, losing their ancestral home was traumatic.
Today, there is a project in the works to make the village and island habitable again, with the ultimate goal of giving the Aseuluk people back their homeland. There’s unfortunately no news on how the project is going at the moment. Ukivok is currently an endangered historical site, as the harsh climate threatens to wipe the village off the map. Ukivok’s fate remains uncertain, but its history and its people live on.
Information About Alaska, Urban Ghosts, Wikipedia