Episode 70-something: Old Believers

Greetings, Comrades! Today, I want to give you an episode about something completely different. About one of the…strangest..communes out there. I’ve been wanting to make an episode about this sub-denomination of the Orthodox church and their weird destinies for a while now, so now that I had the chance, I did. And It came out as one strange episode. Hope you’ll like it!

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The humble creator of this podcast - living in Riga, Latvia, and trying to give you the best that I can.

6 Comments on Episode 70-something: Old Believers

  1. Not that long ago I worked for a few years on and off in Delta Junction, Alaska, where there’s a substantial Russian Old Believer community. I think many are “Americanized” to a large degree and don’t seem to shy away from any technology that I’ve noticed, and much of their younger people talk just like other Alaskans. The women (or some of them anyway) still wear patterned headscarves, but otherwise it’s sometimes hard to tell much difference from their appearance (especially since a lot of Alaskan guys sport big beards as well). And as a result of this community, you sometimes see the funny situation of young men with very Russian-sounding names (and sometimes slight accents too) working as security guards and a few other jobs at the nearby Army post (Fort Greely), where critical pieces of America’s developing missile defense systems are housed. 🙂

    • I heard about the group in Alaska, but I thought their community was named Nikolayevsk. They arrived in the 1960s with some help from Senator Robert Kennedy, and like the Old Believers in Russia, they tried to escape attention from everybody else. Thus, most Americans did not know they were there until a news story was done on them in 2013.

      • There are actually multiple Old Believer communities in Alaska. My limited knowledge of it is that the communities in the Kenai Peninsula like Nikolayevsk were settled first, then places like Delta Junction had Old Believers move in years later. The ones I saw (or at least recognized) most frequently either worked or shopped at the local IGA supermarket, mostly recognizable by wearing dresses and patterned headscarves. I remember at the time my wife (Mongolian and educated in Russia) was pleasantly surprised to see they had a surprising number of imported Russian foods at the supermarket. But to be honest, other than little things like these I didn’t notice their presence much.

  2. The New York Times recently presented an article concerning (American) football among the Old Believers in Voznesenka, Alaska. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/sports/football-old-believers-alaska.html?_r=0.
    Also, this fascinating episode didn’t mention another similar group, the Doukhobors, most of whom live in Canada. They were famous for their naked protests.
    In Estonia many Old Believers live on the shores of Lake Peipus. The onion they grow are famous throughout Estonia.

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