ALEUT “TRADITION BEARER” ANFESIA SHAPSNIKOFF DIED—WEAVER/RELIGIOUS LEADER
Born in 1900 in Atka, Alaska, her mother moved with her and her brother to Unalaska in 1905. Anfesia later became the unofficial leader of the community largely due to her having learned to read and write English, Unangan, and Russian. An ordained reader in the Russian Orthodox Church, she conducted services when a priest was absent. In 1942, in defiance of U.S. military orders, Anfesia and the church committee brought the icons of Unalaska’s Church of the Holy Ascension south to Burnett Inlet where the Aleut were interred. An accomplished Attu basket weaver who taught classes for the Kodiak Historical Society, she helped preserve Aleut culture and language. Anfesia died in Unalaska. On March 7, 2000, the Alaskan Legislature recognized Shapsnikoff as an “Aleut Tradition Bearer” who “…served as nurse, church reader, teacher and community leader nearly all her life…who contributed history and well-being for all Alaskans.”
Source: “Aleutian Voices – Forced to Leave,” National Park Service. Retrieved 6/10/2019, https://www.nps.gov/articles/aleutian-voices-forced-to-leave.htm Photo: Edward Lewis Bartlett Papers, 1938-1970, UAF-1969-95-312. Courtesy of Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Photo is cropped.