Old Believers Alaska

Old Believers in Alaska



extend creep (2) find/found/found
renew network frozen (2)
drift rhythm couple (2)
czar range (2) choose/chose/chosen
adopt ancestor adventure
require witness flee/fled/fled
settle tradition come/came/come
priest area (3) lead/led/led
luck archaic catch/caught/caught
adapt way (2) old-fashioned
length symbol keep at an arm’s length
god constant persecute
outfit push (2) iron hand
sort of remote run/ran/ran (2)
marry custom encourage
allow wedding break/broke/broken (3)
search progress notice (2)
bride outsider believe (2)
join approve Native American
cousin convince give a call
decide corral (3) meet/met/met
lucky halfway commercial (2)
sew remote pump (2)
attract knot (2) extended family
endure raise (2) newlywed
groom move in boot camp
expect wedding wilderness
scarf connect balance (3)
tight threaten daycare center






Today’s American Story with Bob Dotson takes us to a place few people ever find. It’s a remote village in the Alaskan wilderness a couple hundred miles south of
Anchorage where time seems frozen. It’s never been seen on network television before.

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Out here, the past does not drift back into the past. The wilderness renews itself It’s the same with these people. The rhythm of their lives has not changed since 1650.

How they got to Alaska reads like a choose-your-own-adventure.

The Russian czar, Peter the Great, persecuted their ancestors for trying to live those old ways, so they fled searching for a place so remote they could live unnoticed, first in China then Brazil. And finally after 300 years, Robert F Kennedy helped them come to America. Six family settled in Nikolaev, forty years ago.

About 400 people live here today.

Nicholas Nikunyin leads them. For most of his life he was a fisherman, until one day at age 42 village elders asked him to become their priest.

Journalist: “You were a fisherman, and now you’re a fisherman for God?”
Nicholas Nikunyin, Priest: “I tried to be. But I have better luck catching the real the fish then then being a priest.”

The Old Believers still speak in archaic form of Russian; kids learn English in school. Their lives may seem old-fashioned, but they’ve adapted, doing business with the modern world while keeping it at arm’s length.

Journalist: “How do you balance the need for change with the things that need to be kept constant?”
Nicholas Nikunyin, Priest: “Live in a remote area.”

But not even these vast mountain ranges could keep their kids corralled even if father Nicholas ruled with the kind of iron hand that push the old
believers out of Russia.

Nicholas Nikunyin, Priest: “I’m not the same anymore.”

Instead they are encouraged to start businesses that could be run out of the village.

Nothing seventeenth-century about his son Nick’s commercial fishing boat.

Things are changing for women too. Masha Yikunyin raised eight children; now she owns a daycare center outside the village, breaking with tradition.

But Father Nicholas approves.

What’s tradition? We’ve all been progressing.

Even in a church that never seems to change. For the first time, they’re allowing you inside to witness an Old Believers wedding.

Katalya, the bride, was born an outsider in Anchorage. She had to join the church so she could marry Enekta. They fell in love 90 miles (145 km) up this road.
Katalia’s mom had married a Native American, and left the Old Believers. But a cousin convinced Enekta to give Katalya a call. Eight months ago they
decided to meet at the pumps halfway from her new home.

Katalya, Bride: “I liked his eyes.”
Journalist: “How about you Enakta?”
Enakta, Groom: “I got lucky; really lucky, that’s all I can say.”

Custom requires the bride and her friends to sew wedding outfits for the groom’s extended family. It’s a big one. There’s a reason these
large families stay knotted together.

Before the honeymoon couples endure sort of a newlywed boot camp they move in with the groom’s parents to learn what the community expects of them in married life. On their wedding day, the bride and groom must hold tight to a scarf connecting them to others, a symbol of their lifelong commitment to their

The outside world may be creeping closer threatening to change all this but the community keeps attracting new people to their old ways. Naturally the lure is old-fashioned: families that enjoyed being together. For Today Bob Dotson NBC News with an American Story in Nikolayevisk, Alaska.

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1448. The report takes place in Moscow, Russia. True or false?

1652. Did these people emigrate to the United States because they wanted to attend American universities and work in companies and offices? How did they come to Alaska? Why did they leave Russia?

1666. Nicholas Nikunyin studied at a seminary as a child. Is this right or wrong? Which is easier, being a fisherman or a priest?

1762. What language or languages do they speak?

1905. What kind of work do they do?

1971. Do the Old Believers only marry other Old Believers? Do they have small, medium-sized or large families?

2001. The Old Believers wear modern jeans, T-shirts and sneakers. Is this correct or incorrect?


Alaska. Are there Old Believers, Amish, Mennonites or other traditional communities in your country?

Argentina. What are the advantages, benefits or pros of their lifestyle?

Bolivia. Are there any disadvantages, drawbacks or cons of their lifestyle?

Brazil. I love their lifestyle. I want to live like them. Yes or no?

China. What might happen in the future?

Siberia. Should more people live like the Old Believers? Should outsiders adopt certain features of the Old Believers’ lifestyle?

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