The village of St. George offers much in the way of history, sights and activities. The village itself is located on a bluff which is the summer nesting habitat for many seabirds. It is also located directly in the flyway for the nesting habitat for Least Auklets, located in the volcanic hills behind the village. Along with the bird life, seals can be seen from your hotel window, playing in the waves. Arctic foxes are also permanent residents in the village and can be seen and heard year round as they scavenge for food.
Long before the arrival of the Russians, tales were told about fog-shrouded islands in the Bering Sea that teemed with life. These were of course the Pribilofs and the people here are Aleut (Unangan) the indigenous inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands for thousands of years. Aleuts did not settle on the Pribilofs until the Russian Period in the 17th Century, when fur traders enslaved the Aleuts and brought them to the Pribilofs to hunt furs. The Aleuts are renown for the sophisticated technology they developed to live off the land and sea. Today the local people are skilled commercial fishermen and partners in state and federal efforts to manage and preserve local environment and wildlife. They still depend on food gathered off the land and sea including, marine mammals, sea birds, eggs, local plants and reindeer. Visitors to St. George will find the that the residents are very friendly and helpful.
St. George is part of the Seal Islands National Historical Landmark, one of only 47 National Historic Sites located in Alaska. National Historical Landmarks recognize historical resources of exceptional value to the nation as a whole. A big reason for this designation is the rich and fascinating history of the commercial fur seal industry.
Seal herds on the Pribilof Islands have long attracted fur hunters: first, the native peoples of the Bering Sea area and, since the 18th century, people of many other nationalities. An international conservation agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Japan (1911) insured the preservation of the flourishing herds on the islands of St. Paul and St. George in an important example of the principle of international arbitration.
Interpretive tours are provided of the fur seal harvest plant where you can learn about the history and manufacturing process. Seals are no longer commercially harvested in the Pribilofs and the sealing plant provides the only remaining facility in the world where the fur sealing process can be re-visited. Interpretive tours of the seal plant are available through the St. George Traditional Council, as well as for other historical buildings in St. George: the Russian Orthodox Church, the St. George Hotel (originally the U.S. Government’s Fur Seal Operations Administration Building), and other properties. Click HERE for more information about the old fur seal plant on St. George Island (PDF File (1.2 MB)).
For more information about St. George Island, please visit Starting Your Adventure or e-mail our local Tourism Coordinator.