Unalaska, Alaska is located 50 miles from the North Pacific Great Circle Route and 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. Year-round population is about 4,700. The International Port of Dutch harbor is a deep-draft port that is free of ice year-round. During peak fishing season the population increases 4-6,000. Commercial fishing, international shipping, and an increasing number of Research vessels and Cruise Ships contribute to the economy of Unalaska. The original village turned city of Unalaska, and Dutch Harbor, are very diverse communities where people from all around the world come to work either seasonally or as residents. The Unangan (indigenous people of the Aleutian Archipelago) have occupied this area for 10,000 years and continue to live in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Akutan, Nikolski, Atka, and Adak. The Unangan take pride in their subsistence activities, art, beliefs and language. The Unangan culture underwent many changes through the Russian Era, the purchase of Alaska by America, WWII forced relocation, and continues to prosper today. The volcanic islands of the Aleutians are home to abundant marine life, including numerous species of sea birds and in-land bird species. No doubt a great reason the Unangan settled here long ago. Today, many people enjoy the sea food, scenery, adventure and thrill of visiting or living in Unalaska/ Dutch Harbor. With high winds, emerald green summer hills, berry picking, fishing year-round, and air service to Anchorage, it is a good destination for families and solo travelers. But with all that comes a bit of caution, as the ecosystem in Unalaska is not impervious to invasive species of all types. In addition to monitoring and acting to remove invasive species, Unalaska and the Aleutians are also threatened by climate change. The ecosystem is one of the most prosperous in the nation and there are multiple observing programs to track the changes that are taking place, from government funded to volunteer first responders. As we watch the climate change all around the globe, Unalaska has already begun to see and feel the impact.
Community Research Assistant
Laresa Syverson was raised in Unalaska and the International Port of Dutch Harbor and continues to live there today. Laresa is passionate about Unangan language revitalization and is actively involved with the Tribe of St. Paul and APIA to learn as much as she can. Laresa is also passionate about gathering and expressing traditional knowledge through Art, Story-telling, and Environmental Monitoring Programs such as the Aleut International Association (AIA) data collection program. Laresa advocates that Unangan people be involved in the process of gathering environmental data and traditional knowledge because it builds professional skills and provides an innovative way to learn about the food we receive from our environment and what changes or interactions are taking place. Laresa also learns traditional medicines and chocolate confection from her Mother and is a licensed Massage Therapy Practitioner. She aims to love the work she does and inspire others to love the work they do. Laresa has her Associates degree in Fine Art from IAIA (NM) and recently completed their Museum Studies Certificate program (Fall 2018).