The AMIQ Institute

The Story of the Amiq Institute

Susanne Swibold and Helen Corbett first visited the Pribilof Islands in 1981, planning to make a documentary film on sea birds. A six-week expedition stretched into three months, as their curiosity led them to film life in the Aleut villages of St. Paul and St. George. Over the next nine years, they made four documentary films about the Aleut culture and the fabled seal and sea bird populations of the Pribilofs. Susanne and Helen lived on St. Paul Island for months at a time until 1993. They documented the challenges the Pribilof Aleuts overcame with the collapse of the centuries-old seal harvest economy and the transition to a fishing economy.

In 1994, Helen and Susanne were invited by Russian Aleuts to visit the Commander Islands, Kamchatka. They were the first western researchers to spend months at a time on Bering Island since the Cold War. Over the next four years, they traveled regularly to the islands, documenting the Aleut culture during the post-Soviet era and the natural history of the islands.

The Amiq Institute grew out of this unique study of two Aleut seal harvesting cultures established during the Russian American fur trade, later isolated from each other and evolving under different political and economic regimes.

The Amiq Institute is committed to the restoration, preservation, and protection of the biological and cultural diversity of the Bering Sea region. Amiq in Aleut means land uncle/provider, the word used to describe the Pribilof Islands.

There is lots more to this story. For details please read the AMIQ Research page.