Native Village of Diomede, Contact
Diomede is a traditional Ingalikmiut Eskimo village with a subsistence lifestyle. Seal, polar bear, blue crab, and whale meat are the preferred foods. Seal and walrus hides are used to make parkas, hats, mukluks, furs, and skins for trade.
Early Eskimos on the islands worked on the ice and sea and had a culture with elaborate whale hunting ceremonies. They traded with both continents. The islands were named in 1728 by Vitus Bering in honor of Saint Diomede. The 1880 Census counted 40 people, all Ingalikmiut Eskimos, in the village of “Inalet.” When the Iron Curtain was formed, Big Diomede became a Soviet military base, and all Native residents were moved to mainland Russia. During World War II, Little Diomede residents who strayed into Soviet waters were taken captive. The city was incorporated in 1970. Some residents are interested in relocating the village, due to the rocky slopes, harsh storms, lack of useable land for housing construction, and inability to construct a water/sewer system, landfill, or airport.