About Our Village
Even though Alaska is now America’s land, a small part of Russian culture still
exists today in a village called Nikolaevsk. The determination to keep their
unique traditions alive and not fade away into history books is a question to be
solved. Alaska was once Russian territory, and it has stagnating similarities to
the Russia we all know today. Climate, landscape, and the popularity of fur are
definite examples of how they are a mirror image of one another.Nikolaevsk
Village is located on the Kenai Peninsula near the town of Homer or 9 miles on
the North Fork road east from Anchor Point.The Russian Village Nikolaevsk
was founded in 1968. The population in Nikolaevsk for 2002 is almost 500
In Nikolaevsk School for 2002 the number of students was 132.
Basketball in Nikolaevsk School is very popular. Students play with other big
and small schools like Soldotna, Kenai, Homer,
Ninilchik and Seldovia. Currently a new church is being built by the village, but
the progress has been slow due to low income. You can help us finish this
church by donating.
In history, it is said that every time Old Believers felt that their life style was
threatened, they would pick up and move to a region where their religion could
be practiced in isolation.
Fast forward to 2012, and Nikolaevsk, 10 miles east of Anchor Point, is still a
village where traditions are taken seriously. The women wear blouses under a
jumper, called a sarafan in Russian and are sometimes worn with an apron while
the men appear in long shirts, or a rubashka, encircled with a belt. Girls of
different ages can be seen adorning bright, colorful clothes with lively patterns
The Old Believers split from the church in the 17th century because of some
slight changes that were imposed. Oregon became their place of solace in the
60s and after half a decade in that area, part of the community moved away and
settled down in Alaska. Their children wouldn’t be as culturally influenced by
Americans in their new settlement, Nikolaevsk.
Old Believers stick to their regime, one being to wear the proper type of
clothes. Some people may think they have gone back in time, once they
encounter this lush village that has a surplus of forest area and warm welcomes.
Even though this village is a small dot compared to nearby towns like Anchor
Point or Homer, they have all the amenities needed to be considered a
functional village such as a post office, a school, and the one and only Samovar
Café. Regardless of their accomplishments, problems persist in this part of
Alaska. The Russian language is starting to vanish, as the younger generation is
showing more distaste toward it.
“Of course Russian language I think will be gone from this generation because
they speak in English at home. Parents don’t talk with them because they don’t
understand them. If parents would talk with their children [in Russian at home]
it would be wonderful, but not so many parents talk with their children in
Russian,” said Nina Fefelov, a now retired Russian language teacher living in
Nikolaevsk since 1991, to the Voice of Russia, “Several years ago, it was taught
to 12 grade but now it’s only kindergarten to 5 grade,” added Fefelov who used
to teach children Russian with her special program, which included watching
Russian cartoons such as Nu Pogodi and Kot Leopold.
Razdolna, Voznesenka and Selo, the other prominent Old Believer villages are
having a better off time speaking Russian with their children at home than
Nikolaevsk, a sad but true fact. Fefelov, owner of the Samovar Café, goes on to
talk about how funding had been cut, the Russian program in the Nikolaevsk
school went from 1 hour lessons, down to 25 minutes a day, barely enough to
help these children develop the skills they need. Issues of this nature may not
seem like a big deal, but students come from Anchor Point to learn Russian in
the Nikolaevsk School, expecting to become bilingual. The question remains of
who will continue on with the traditions from their village, since the adolescents
here really don’t have any degree of interest.
“Our village has our special Russian culture, people here want to save
traditions, especially with clothes and they keep religion, how this religion was
before. This is like a big family here,” explained Fefelov who used to be an
electrical engineer in Russia but moved to Nikolaevsk after marrying her
Many children are said to not even attend church, since the ceremony is done in
the old Slavic language, something they can’t even understand. Their culture and
religious traditions are being threatened by the changing ways of the world, and
are allowing computers and TVs in their lives. Such add-ons are altering the
way Old Believers perceive the world, and this may be a contributing factor as
to why the children aren’t as accepting of their environment.
As they say all good things must come to an end, however as adults in
Nikolaevsk wish to preserve the Russian language and the culture surrounding
it, more children oppose the entire idea. They are pressured by modern day
society to wear trendy clothes and speak English, something their surroundings
can’t offer them.
Adolescents here are at a crossroads between keeping the tradition alive or
letting it become just another page in the history books. The choice is theirs and
only time will give Nikolaevsk residents the answer to their burning question:
will our language, culture, and way of life stand to live through another
generation? Well Nikolaevsk, the world will just have to wait and see, what
becomes of the simple village nestled in southern Alaska.
NEW CHURCH BEING BUILT
FIRE WEED IN NIKOLAEVSK
GRAVEL ROADS IN NIKOLAEVSK
NINA FEFELOV IN Cafe
YOUNG CHILDREN IN