- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - A Russian film crew arrived in Kodiak Saturday to document the life of St. Herman and his time in the Kodiak archipelago.

Mikhail Malakhov leads the team that includes his two sons, Michael and Alex, and cameraman Alexandr Breev. They are joined by businessman Igor Koskin and his family.

The group hails from the Ryazan territory of Russia, where St. Herman was born around 1750.

St. Herman was part of the Russian mission that came to Kodiak in 1794. He helped convert the Native population to Christianity, but eventually came into conflict with the Russians about their treatment of the Native people. As a sort of exile, he moved to Spruce Island where he lived a monastic life in the early 1800s.

St. Herman was canonized in 1970 and is buried in Kodiak. He was the first Orthodox saint in North America.

The elder Malakhov is chairman of the Ryazan regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society and an experienced polar explorer. He was named a hero of the Russian Federation in 1995 by then-president Boris Yeltsin after an expedition to the North Pole.

Malakhov and his team visited Kodiak three years ago at the start of a 50-day voyage along the Aleutian chain aboard the Sauvage yacht. During that journey, the crew made 60 stops on the islands while studying the lasting impressions of Russian culture.

The crew will again travel aboard the Sauvage, with its owners Didier and Sophie Wattrelot.

“(There are) not so many boats in the world who are able to do such voyages,” he said. “They are very experienced.”

The crew began the current voyage after attending services Sunday morning at the Holy Resurrection Cathedral.

“This year we are concentrated on Kodiak . and we are interested in the stories about St. Herman,” Malakhov said.

The first stop was Monk’s Lagoon on Spruce Island, where St. Herman spent the later years of his life.

Other stops aboard the yacht will include Ouzinkie, Karluk, Akhiok and Old Harbor. They expect to return on Saturday.

On the second half of the trip, the crew will kayak from Akhiok to Kodiak.

They will “follow footsteps of Native trails that were used also by Russians,” Malakhov said. This includes Tikhon Shalamov, who was a minister in Kodiak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The kayaks they will use are similar to the Aleut kayaks that would have been used at the time, Michael Malakhov said.

The goal for the trip is to showcase the difficulties these historical figures went through, Mikhail Malakhov said.

“It’s interesting and it’s a challenge,” Michael Malakhov said. “For those people who did that for the first time, it was like kind of a job. But, to me, it’s a challenge to understand what they (felt) when they were here and doing such kind of job.”

According to Mikhail, “It’s impossible to go forward when you don’t know what’s back.”

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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