Today’s hero image features Alaska’s Eklutna Cemetery with its colorful and eerie burial spirit houses. About 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, the village of Eklutna was settled more than 800 years ago and is the oldest inhabited area in the region. Its main attraction is the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church graveyard, which displays an interesting cultural mix of Athabascan Indian and Russian Orthodox.
When family members pass, blankets are placed over their graves to warm and comfort the soul. Forty day later, families will return to place a spirit box over the site and to leave parting gifts. The houses are then left to weather and decay, honoring the Athabascan belief that, “that which is taken from the Earth must be allowed to return.”
The Eklutna Cemetery is open mid-May through mid-September. Adult admission is $5 and guided tours are available Monday through Friday, 10 am–5 pm. While there, also visit the Old Saint Nicholas Church and view the Russian Orthodox domes and three-barred cross.
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