Uelen, in far-east arctic Siberia

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  1. 1. Uelen, An inuit village in far-east arctic Siberia
  2. 2. Cape Dezhnev and the Bering Strait are close by, and this is a major sea route crossroads between the two continents. In the russian remote Chukotka, said to be the end of the Earth, the farthest region of Eurasia, Uelen is the last settlement before the ocean, and the closest to America.
  3. 3. Uelen (russian: ) Coordinates: 66 09 N, 169 48 W, just south of the arctic circle. Population ~ 750 (some 70 are Yupik eskimos)
  4. 4. SOME HISTORY Uelen was initially an Yupik Eskimo settlement; the Ancient Bering Sea culture existed from the 3rd century BC till the 1st century CE. But at the beginning of 18th century the incoming Chukchi settlers outnumbered the prior occupants and assimilated the territory of Cape Dezhnev. In the Western explorer history, the first mention of Uelen appears on the 1792 map of the Billings-Sarychev expedition. After 1917, Uelen became one of the first trade co-operatives in Chukotka and a dedicated American trading post was established. In the first half of the 20th century, Uelen was the site of one of the first Russian arctic research stations. The Chukchi and Inuit (Yupik) people who live in the area have a long tradition of ivory and bone carving that goes back several centuries. Works from the Uelen Studio, carved from walrus ivory, sea-mammal bone, and reindeer antler are widely appreciated and represented in many major museums.
  5. 5. Uelen is located on the northeast corner of the Uelen Lagoon, a roughly 15 by 3 km east-west lagoon separated from the ocean by a sandspit.
  6. 6. The narrow sandspit clearly separates the Uelen Lagoon from the Bering Sea.
  7. 7. The village has local administrative offices, a boarding school, day care, hospital, post, native crafts workshop, museum, and culture hall.
  8. 8. Newly built Canadian style houses New School, Museum and Arts Center
  9. 9. Most of the income derives from the sea - walrus, whales, fish , from reindeer herding and also from trapping and hunting with sled dogs. In recent years, the Uelen Art Studio is a welcome new economic source for the local artists.
  10. 10. Hunter with sled dogs Chukchi hunter
  11. 11. The Church
  12. 12. The oceanfront Orthodox Chapel of the Resurrection was built at the end of 2002. It was designed by Mikhail Kravchuk. The wooden chapel was a gift from the people of Omsk sent as homage to Chukchi people, and was mounted in 2 months. It is the easternmost church in Eurasia.
  13. 13. The 750 inhabitants are an ethnic mix of Chukchi (paleo-siberians from Chukotka region), Yupik eskimos and Russians.
  14. 14. Children playing in Uelen
  15. 15. Chukchi and eskimo folk dances take place each year in a festival.
  16. 16. A dance and drumming performance by a local dance troupe one of the most appreciated attractions in Uelen.
  17. 17. NATIVE ARTS Ivory sculpture and carving The Chukchi and Inuit people who live in the area have a long tradition of ivory and bone carving that goes back several centuries. A Carving Workshop was founded in the 1930s, employing a number of award- winning Chukotka Native artists. Since then the reputation of Uelens craftworks has grown and can now be found in collections around the world. They are perhaps most famous for their detailed engraving on walrus ivory which often depicts their legends as well as scenes of traditional activities like hunting and reindeer herding.
  18. 18. The basic Walrus tusks engraved with traditional native scenes and legends.
  19. 19. Sculptures are mostly made by men Engravings are mostly made by women Whales, seals, and white bears
  20. 20. Uelen prints Mother and child Beating the clothes
  21. 21. skin and knitware.
  22. 22. The nearest large exhibition of Uelen crafts is located in Anadyr, at the Museum Center Chukotka Heritage
  23. 23. The Chukchi coast is mainly rocky high steep cliffs. Uelen lagoon is just a low interval, the sandspit seen here at its eastern extreme. Eastern Chukotka and Cape Dezhnev
  24. 24. The Bering Strait is about 80 kilometers wide, with depth averaging 40-50 meters and a few spots as deep as 60 meters. Cape Dezhnev, the farthest eastern point of Eurasia. From here the distance to Alaska is 80 km Uelen The Lagoon is clearly visible
  25. 25. The Cape Deshnev peninsula was a center for trade between American (and other) whalers and the fur traders and the native Yupik and Chukchi people of the coast in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early years, ships would call at Uelen to trade for furs produced along the arctic coast. There were established trading stations at Uelen and Deshnevo. Of the four historical villages by the cape, only Uelen is still inhabited.
  26. 26. Cape Dezhnev memorials The abandoned village of Naukan on Cape Dezhnev. Yupik eskimo tribes lived here and in Big Diomede island from at least 2000 years ago, visiting and trading through the Bering Strait with their partners in Alaska. Some archeological sites and modern memorials remain, including a lighthouse. This was once the easternmost settlement in Eurasia.
  27. 27. The Bering strait project Could a bridge, or a tunnel, be built to link the once connected continents ?
  28. 28. Studies have been made, costs and dificulties are formidable , but who knows Uelen, on the Russian side, would be the first (or last) settlement: all traffic would past there. Uelen
  29. 29. Already Czar Nicholas II had approved a railroad tunnel in 1905. Tunnel or bridge, that fantastic project would connect directly Paris to New York around the earth, via Siberia and Alaska !
  30. 30. Sources: Photos and text excerpts from http://www.trekearth.com http://www.pbase.com http://www.panoramio.com/ http://www.flickr.com/ http://www.uelenart.com/english3.htm Selection and slideshow Mario Ricca , 2014