If you find yourself in Alaska driving south on Sterling Highway towards Homer you should stop by the small village Ninilchik (Нинильчик). This is a community with strong Russian influence that will charm any visitor with its colourful boats randomly beached around the old village.
Don’t expect a big crowd, the community has a population of about 800 people. The Dena’ina people were the first to use the area for fishing and hunting, but the first to permanently settle down were Russian colonists who moved here in 1847. Makes sense since Alaska at that time was Russian, the ‘Alaska Purchase’ didn’t happen until 1867.
After the purchase in 1867 locals in Ninilchik had next to no communication with other Russians and kept their dialect without being influenced. In 1997 and 2013 Russian linguists visited Ninilchik to collect material for a dictionary and make recordings as they considered it Russian language’s most isolated dialect.
Ninilchik is recognised as a Alaska Native Village and the Ninilchik Village Tribe is made up of nearly 900 tribal members.
The community is located on the east side of Sterling Highway, but tourist usually head for Old Ninilchik Village which is beautifully located where Ninilchik River blends into Cook Inlet.
The faded log cabins and colourful boats makes a perfect postcard scene. There are a dozen of buildings including the iconic Russian Orthodox Church of Transfiguration from 1901.
Like all Alaskan coastal towns fishing has always been important and you can go on fishing charter tours from the harbour at Old Ninilchik Village. We were happy just talking a stroll along the beach watching this bald eagle having a meal of fresh caught salmon.
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