- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

NOME, Alaska (AP) - Russian hunters received $10,000 in humanitarian aid from Alaska’s North Slope Borough after they visited their distant Inuit relatives on Saint Lawrence Island for the first time in 14 years.

The hunters boated to the Alaskan island just south of the Russian border in late July and headed home to Russia’s Chukotsk Peninsula with the donation, which went toward supplies and fuel for the 70-mile journey.

The financial support was provided because gatherings of Inuit people are important for preserving kinship and for unity, North Slope Borough Mayor Charlotte Brower told KNOM (https://is.gd/hgwBF5 ).

“There is little difference between efforts to unite Inuit families across international boundaries through formal organizations or through informal gatherings like we just saw,” she said. “The Inuit lived their lives without regard to political boundaries for millennia and the kinship shared between the Inuit people of Alaska and Chukotka stands as a testament of that fact.”

The Siberian Yup’ik Chukotkans were able to visit Alaska in a traditional exchange revived after international tensions, war and dangerous seas prohibited travel for decades.

A new diplomatic program is in the works to make the border crossing easier.

Vera Metcalf of Nome has worked with the hunters through various international delegations. She said Brower has been supportive of the exchanges between Alaska and Russia.

“Over the years, the borough has been providing some financial support to our visitors from across the waters,” Metcalf said.

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Information from: KNOM-AM, https://www.knom.org

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