I live on the second largest of the Aleutian Islands. My ancestors, the Unangan/Ungangas, according to William Laughlin, American anthropologist, are the one race of people who have lived in the same spot on earth for the longest period of documented history. And we are still here. I have raised three kids, quite successfully, I believe.  Two have returned from college to live in Unalaska.  The first born lives in Idaho with his wife and two children.  He will probably always be homesick.  I love living in Unalaska, and plan to stay til the end of my days!

I currently serve as a director of the  Iliuliuk Family & Health Services.  I learned from osmosis that community service is a way of life, and have been successful in passing that value on to my children.  After having successfully completed work on the Alaska Initiative for StoryCorps, I decided to dedicate myself to all things subsistence for as long as I could stay unemployed!  That didn’t last long.  So I work part-time and try to fit my life into the off hours.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sharon Svarny-Livingston

25 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Sharon!

    It was so good to meet the nboth of you. I hope you liked the story.

    Can I reprint your story on morels? It was great!


    1. Hooray! There is nothing worse than being seasick. Just like morning sickness! Followed you on your trip and am now looking forward to the pictures! Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  2. Sharon and family,

    I just returned from my third visit to Dutch Harbor. I go there about once a year to work. Recently, I learned how to use the blog search function on google and stumbled on this site. I just had to share the link with all my friends on facebook. I knew that there was more to this wondrous place than drinking and fishing, and I’m glad to be able to learn more about it.

    I’d love to meet some locals and try some real Unangan food (though Amelias is good to!) nextime I’m in town. Your culture is so amazing and everything you’re doing to preserve it is wonderful. I particularly love the Museum of the Aleutians. I’ve been all over and have never been so entertained by exhibits. Thankyou!

    Sean Jewell
    Seattle, Wa.

    1. Thanks for all the compliments. We do love living in Unalaska, and it pleases us to no end when adventurous, unique people feel the same when they come to Unalaska!

      1. I used your pressure cooker recipe to make the juice for salmon berry jelly. It is awesome and so easy. Thank you. I know how to make bread and smoke fish. I always had other people make my jam or jelly for me. I pick berries, drop them off, and throughout the winter I get jars of jelly. I finally got brave enough to try it myself.

        1. Perfect! Now this is why I share. Congratulations. Don’t you just love being self-sufficient?

        2. Woo hoo, Glenora!!! That is awesome. Sorry it took me so long to respond, but life has taken over once again and I’m finding it hard to devote time to my blog. Isn’t it amazing, really, how good making jelly for yourself makes you feel?

        1. Lucky you! Not too many people get a chance like that! And you were a bit more off the beaten path than we are, haha.

  3. Thank you for this blog! I am currently doing some research for a sociology class and it is incredibly difficult to find information on modern Unangan cughlture. It is an invaluable resource for documenting your native culture. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading every single post and have learned so much. If I didn’t live in Norfolk, VA, I’d be yelling, “ROAD TRIP!”

    1. How interesting. How did you choose the Unangan culture for the project, or was it simply part of the assignment? Part of your lineage? Not too many people have heard about the indigenous peoples of the Aleutians, so I am curious.

  4. I have a friend who was stationed in Kodiak for 6 years. (2 separate tours) I’m comparing the Indigenous cultures of the Unangan and the Ainu of Japan. Would it be possible to email me your full name offline so I can correctly cite your blog?

  5. Dear Sharon, I am a writer. I have never visited Alaska, but have always been fascinated by stories of the peoples and animals (especially the whales) and hope to visit one day. I thought it would be interesting to have one of my characters be a native of False Pass but move to Florida, where I live. I imagine her as a spiritual leader who leaves when grief becomes too much. I want to be respectful of your people and also accurate, although I am writing fiction. May I ask a few general, not personal, questions? You may reach me via email, if you wish, to keep our conversation private. Thank you!

  6. Hello! Could you please tell me how to pronounce “Unalaska” – I live in Juneau, and even an elderly friend here who was evacuated from Adak as a child says “UN (just like UNkind) – Alaska” – but I have also heard “YUN-Alaska” and “OON-Alaska.” (The clips on YT are a joke!) Thanks much!

    (Sorry if this is a re-post, I had some password issues).

    1. So sorry I didn’t see this comment. Your first Un like unkind is how it is pronounced today. The Russian-ized version is Ounalashka or Oon-alashka.

  7. Hi Sharon, I grew up in Cold Bay, and your husband was my best friend! I think your blog is fantastic and I very much respect and admire your knowledge.

    1. Thank you, Chuck. I have to say I have heard about you and your family since I first met Caleb in the 70’s. I have had a terrible time writing lately. It seems to stem from occurrences starting in 2016. I will continue to try to break out of my funk and get back to it.

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