Barabara Point, Kachemak Bay

Barabara Point, Kachemak Bay

by | Jul 1, 2019

Barabara Point is a low headland on the Kenai Peninsula, about 4 miles (6.5 km) northeast of Seldovia, Alaska. The local name was first reported in 1918 by Professor A.C. Gill, a mineralogist with Cornell University, who conducted a special investigation of the chromite deposits of Port Chatham and Red Mountain on lower Cook Inlet. The name is from a Kamchatka Siberian word for large semi-subterranean Native huts. The Aleut name for the dwelling is “ulax”.

A barabara was the traditional dwelling used historically by Alutiiq and Aleut people. The semi-permanent structures were partially underground like an earth lodge or pit-house, and most of the house was excavated to withstand the high wind forces in the Aleutian Islands. The roof of a barabara was generally made from sod and grass layered over a frame of driftwood or whalebone. A barabara would often be partitioned into a main communal room and one or more secondary sleeping rooms. There was usually a small hole in the ceiling from which the smoke from a fire could escape. Early versions had a roof doorway for entry, and later designs used a vertical doorway. The entrance typically had a little wind envelope or “Arctic entry” to prevent cold wind, rain, or snow from blowing into the main room.

The early indigenous people of Alaska were nomadic during the summer and gathered resources at different locations according to the season and tradition. They would spend the winter along the coast, and before the arrival of trading posts, these seasonal congregations were often the only time families saw others even if they were from the same village and tribe. Barabaras were often located near or along streams that provided water and winter or early runs of spawning salmon. Read more here and here. Explore more of Barabara Point here:

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