The residents of the village of Russian Mission enjoy bountiful subsistence opportunities including chances to harvest moose, waterfowl, salmon and black bears. This unique village remains rooted in its cultural heritage.
Russian Mission is located along the west bank of the Yukon River about 70 miles northeast of Bethel. According to a 2011 Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development estimate, approximately 300 people call Russian Mission home.
Today’s village sits on the site of an old fur trading post. The Russian-American Company, one of the largest maritime fur trade companies in the world, set up the post in 1837. Due to the amount of wildlife in the area trapping remained an important part of the culture, and while the fur industry has declined in recent years, many residents still earn some income from trapping.
The settlement became an Eskimo village called “Ikogmiut” meaning “people of the point.” Russian Mission became home to the first Russian Orthodox mission in Interior Alaska which was built in 1857 by Russian-Aleut priest Jacob Netzuetov. The priest dubbed the mission, “Pokrovskaya Mission” and the village became known as Russian Mission in 1900. At one time there were two villages named Russian Mission, but eventually the village along the Kuskokwim was renamed Chuathbaluk.
Russian Mission became incorporated in 1970 and a federally recognized tribe, Iqurmiut Traditional Council, is located there. Employment opportunities are fairly limited within the community, the main employers are the school district, local businesses and the fishing industry.
The maritime weather can be a roller coaster for residents who face temperatures ranging from -54 °F to 86 °F. Annual rainfall averages about 16 inches and the community sees about 60 inches of snowfall.