CIRI Summer Interns Visit Seldovia

By CIRI summer intern Chloe Tetpon (Inupiaq)

CIRI summer interns (L to R) Chloe Tetpon, Maddie Mulcahey and Elyse Decker hike the Otter Bahn trail in Seldovia. Photo by Darla Graham.

Our trip began July 23 in Anchorage, where we caught an early flight to Homer on a small-cabin plane. Along for the trip were my fellow interns, Elyse Decker (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq) and Maddie Mulcahey (Iñupiaq); CIRI Shareholder and Descendant Programs staff members Darla Graham (Yup’ik) and Jordyn Ransom (Athabascan); and CIRI Chief Strategy Officer Sarah Lukin (Sugpiaq/Alutiiq). Once in Homer, we were greeted by the beautiful water and charming town, bustling with fishermen. From there, a ferry took us across Kachemak Bay— where we spotted orcas and sea otters—and delivered us to the village of Seldovia.

We were greeted by Crystal Collier, president of Seldovia Tribal Council, who shared stories of the village’s rich history. Seldovia was traditionally home to Aleut, Alutiiq, Athabascan and Yup’ik peoples, and it is only accessible by boat or plane. Today, the Seldovia Bay Ferry, which is owned and operated by Seldovia Village Tribe, serves as the primary source of transportation for Seldovia’s approximately 240 residents and for visitors to this coastal community.

Crystal told us about the early settlements of the town. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake caused the land beneath Seldovia to drop several feet, forcing residents to rebuild much of their community on higher ground.

It was also a first-time visit for CIRI summer intern Elyse. Elyse’s Alaska Native relatives came from Seldovia, and she was able to visit the cemetery where some of them are buried. “It was an incredible experience,” she shared. “I was finally able to see the village my family lived in and pay my respects to my great-great-grandma and great-aunt. I plan to return to spend more time on my family’s plot of land.”

After sharing her extensive knowledge of Seldovia’s history, Crystal spoke of the future. She hopes to preserve Native traditions while embracing innovation. The village’s quiet beauty attracts people from all walks of life, and its future is ever-evolving—a melting pot of cultures and traditions, acquiring new perspectives with each visitor. It is truly a special place for everyone.