Today we visited Eklutna, a tiny village about 25 miles from Anchorage, to visit the Eklutna Historical Park. This is a very interesting place that shows the blending of cultures between the Russian Orthodox Christians and the Athabaskan Indians. The old church of St. Nicholas is one of the oldest log structures in the Anchorage area, was built around 1870. The newer church was built 1954-1962. There are no seats except 2 benches in the back of the churches as Orthodox Christians stand for the services showing reverence to Christ.
Of great interest is the graveyard near the two churches which is an Orthodox Christian cemetery still in use today. The Athabaskans believe that the spirit of the deceased remains on earth for a year, so spirit houses and an Orthodox cross are placed over the grave 40 days after the burial to house the spirit of the deceased and his possessions. The colors of the houses are specific to the family, and blankets are placed upon the grave instead of flowers because of the severe climate. Today, plastic flowers are sometimes used,