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00:51 | Nov 27 | 2012

An Artifact of Courage

The Yakuts gave Californian park two serges.

In 1812, a Russian settlement known as Fort Ross was founded just north of San Francisco on the coast of California. Ross was the southernmost Russian colony in North America and was set up as an agricultural settlement, intended to supply Alaska with food.

From the very beginning, Fort Ross was a multicultural settlement: skilled carpenters, shipwrights, blacksmiths and millers had been selected and brought for the construction and development of the fort – in all, 20 commercial people, each of whom was an experienced craftsman. Yakuts also were among Russians digesting new lands. The statistics on the composition of the inhabitants of Fort Ross in 1821 say that out of 175 adults there were 24 Russians, the rest were Creoles (that is how children born of Russian men and aboriginal women of Alaska and California were named), Aleuts, Hawaiians, Miwok and Pomos tribes Californian Indians, Kadiaks and Yakuts, etc.
As well-known, the Yakuts played a very important role in the development of the Russian empire in Siberia, the Far East and America. The Yakuts supplied Russian expeditions with food, horses, and also served as guides. Alaskan Yakuts were from Central Yakutia. Most of them belonged to the uluses and naslegs, located on the right side of the Lena River on the way from Yakutsk to the Okhotsk Sea.
The history of the outermost post of Russia ended in 1841, when it was sold to a Californian entrepreneur John Sutter.
During the commemorative events in honor of the bicentennial of Fort Ross an idea to set up a ritual tethering post – serge – occurred to the Yakuts, in memory of their brave ancestors, who, in spite of the danger, decided to travel to out-of-the-world parts to explore new lands.
The idea was fully supported by Fort Ross. Specialists of the Fort Ross Park helped to the maximum to solve various ongoing issues including provision of logs made of local wood and a variety of information on accommodation of the Yakut delegation, etc. The Yakut side chose mahogany as the most popular kind of wood for carving among local artists because of its strength and other good properties.
Two options for installing serge were proposed – a place on the beach near the Timber Cove Hotel and in the Art Center in the town of Gualala. Each of these places had their own advantages and disadvantages, though, in the end it was decided to put serge in both places.
The work on serge began in Fort Ross, and was held during the celebration of the anniversary. Thus Yakut delegation immediately drew increased attention from the guests. The tourists were interested in everything – the process of work, national costumes, traditional utensils, khomuses.
Two serges by Fyodor Markov, the national artist of Russia, were set up on the 30th of July. In such way the Yakuts erected monuments to their ancestors retained in the history of Russia.