St. Paul Island, which is more than 300 thousand years old, is one of several that make up the Pribilof Islands, so named by the Russian navigator, Gavriel Pribylov, in 1787. The over 40 square mile island in the middle of the Bering Sea lies 750 miles west of Anchorage. It is roughly 250 miles north of the east central Aleutians, 300 miles from Alaska’s west coast, and only 500 miles east of Siberia.
With a sub-Arctic maritime climate, the weather on St. Paul Island is cool year round. Mean temperatures vary from 19 to 51 degrees Fahrenheit. There is an annual rainfall of 25 inches and 56 inches of snow.
Carved by wind and wave, the island captivates the senses. There are towering, rocky cliffs rising from the sea, beaches of sand the color of charcoal and green tea, rolling hills, and sharp peaks and craggy outcroppings of primarily olivine basalt rock rising toward the sky. Many of the shores are stacked with a blend of pebbles, rocks, and boulders of incredible variety.
Home to the largest Aleut population in the world, the history of these people has been shaped by the Russians and by stewardship under the U. S. government. The Russian influence is visible in the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church, in the three-bar crosses that mark the resting places of Aleuts, in the names of geographic features on the island, and in the names of the Aleuts themselves.
The present Aleuts on the island, who are welcoming and friendly, descend from an ancient people that were skilled seafarers and hunters. Many today still ply the Bering Sea today as commercial fishermen of crab and halibut.
Aleuts also were skilled artisans, although much of their creations served a functional purpose. Ivory carving, basketweaving, the making of traditional bentwood hats and kayaks, and dancing continues today in the community. Efforts are underway to introduce the diversity of the culture and heritage of St. Paul Island Aleuts to the rest of the world through establishment of a permanent museum on the island, as well as through traveling exhibits and an online exhibit.
St Paul Island Tours is fully owned by TDX Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation.