Biorka, Sedanka Island

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Biorka, Sedanka Island

by | Dec 12, 2018

Biorka is an abandoned village on the north coast of Sedanka Island, in the Fox Islands of the Eastern Aleutians, Alaska. It is about 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Unalaska. In 1790, Martin Sauer recorded the Aleut name for the village as “Sidankin”, and in 1826 Lieutenant Sarichev of the Imperial Russian Navy published a chart with “S[elo] Sedanka” or “Sedanka Village”. In 1888, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries recorded “Burka,” which was published on charts as “Biorka,” from the Norwegian “Birch Island.”

Like many Aleut places, Biorka had probably existed for thousands of years, though from the time of first Russian contact in the 1700s, the population had never exceeded 150. Most residents lived by fishing and otter hunting, though the relative proximity to Unalaska made it possible for men to go there and work as needed.

Saint Nicholas Chapel was a Russian Orthodox Church in Biorka, and functioned as a satellite of the Holy Ascension Church in Unalaska. It was consecrated in 1855, and abandoned in 1942 with the forced evacuation of the Eastern Aleutians following the Japanese attack on Unalaska on June 3, 1942. Residents of Biorka were brought back after the war, and although some families attempted to return to Biorka, on March 10, 1952 the town was hit by a major storm, damaging or destroying most of it, including the church. In the mid-1960’s the church building was dismantled and burned, and a small structure was built to protect the area of consecrated ground where the altar had been. Read more here and here. Explore more of Biorka and Sedanka Island here:

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