Marie Ondola Rosenberg Spirit House, Eklutna Historic Park - Eklutna, AK, USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 61° 27.676 W 149° 21.702
6V E 374141 N 6816446
Quick Description: This very elaborate spirit house in the cemetery by the St. Nicholas Church is more like a dollhouse, complete with windows and curtains.
Location: Alaska, United States
Date Posted: 4/10/2011 8:07:40 PM
Waymark Code: WMB6D0
Views: 3

Long Description:
In the village of Eklutna, there is a cemetery that demonstrates the merging of cultures when it comes to worship and burial. The cemetery is by the old and new St. Nicholas Churches, which are Russian Orthodox. Here colorfully built structures stand in a field, usually with a Russian Orthodox cross by them, and sometimes a fence around them. The one marked by this waymark is one of the most decorated of the spirit houses in the cemetery.

Most of the graves are of Alaskan Natives from Athabaskan Native Peoples. These Athabaskan people were converted to the Russian Orthodox denomination while Russia had claimed Alaska as its territory. The older church was built in Knik around 1830 or 1870 and moved to Eklutna in 1900, so this gives the approximate time that the Russian Orthodox church started operating in the area.

According to our guide and also a web site for the location, the spirit houses are particular to the Athabaskan people, while the crosses, naturally, are Russian tradition. After a person has died, the members of the family build a spirit house, often painting it in the family colors, and place it on that person's grave. The belief is that when a person dies, the soul or spirit wanders the earth for about a year before going on. While on earth, the spirit needs a place to live and the house provides that.

There is another tradition where a blanket is put over the grave, not covered here.

Most spirit houses are simple structures with four walls and a peaked roof, with possibly an ornamental design along the roofline. No doors or windows are painted or carved in.

Not so, with this spirit house.

The spirit house of this waymark was the most highly decorated of the spirit houses found, and is more like a doll house than a spirit house. The house is an 'El' shape and has two stories. The roof is possibly made of sheet iron and is peaked, following the 'El.' There are windows with 'glass' (possibly plexi-glass) and drawn curtains inside. There are steps that lead up to a door. On the top of the roof is more traditional decoration along the roofline. There is even a chimney that is 'blackened with soot' around the top. The house is painted white, with blue trim and a red roof. The Russian Cross is behind the house.

There is a stone tablet at the base of the house with the following:

"Marie Ondola
Rosenberg
Apr. 4, 1933 - Aug. 24, 2003
Sh'u yagheli, ena ch'o chida
My good wife,
mother and grandma"

It is obvious that this person is still cherished as there are flowers and plants all over, and it looks like the house is in good condition.
Date of Birth: 4/4/1933

Date of Death: 8/24/2003

Material: Other

Web Site: Not listed

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