The Ounalashka Corporation displays my favorite island Christmas decoration. Wearing a traditional bentwood hat, the Unangan Santa navigates his carved bidarka led by a team of seals. Of course, he should be out in the Bering Sea, but then we would not be able to enjoy his presence.
Unalaska has 6000 or more years of rich cultural history; the Unangan people lived off the land and sea, built underground houses to protect themselves from the harsh weather, made waterproof clothing from the guts and skins of sea mammals, skillfully carved boats and tools and ornaments, used native plants and berries for food and medicine. I would not give up my modern conveniences to go back in time, but I sometimes wonder what life was like for the people who lived in this beautiful place thousands of years ago, before the Russians, before the Americans, when their culture and traditions were valued and respected, and every day was a challenge, a victory of survival over the elements.