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Mystery of 60-year-old Alaska tourist photos is solved

February 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.5%. 2 min read.

After a collection of mysterious photographs of Alaska were published on CNN, the people featured in them have stepped forward to identify themselves and revealed their delight at reconnecting with a past that they thought had been lost for good.

An old school friend had posted a link to a just-published CNN Travel article showcasing beautiful color photos from mid-20th century Alaska under the headline: "Do you know the mystery behind these Alaska travel photos?"

Now, she hoped that by sharing the pictures with CNN, people in the images might recognize themselves or the photographer, who she reckoned was a Dutch traveler.

Skupin asked anyone with information to comment on a Google Drive containing 200 photos of people, places and scenes.

Many of the people in the photos are Yup'ik, part of Alaska's indigenous community.

Stevens-Johnson, a graduate of the University of Alaska who taught elementary school for over three decades, was around 10 years old when these two photos were taken.

Walkie Charles, an associate professor of Yup'ik, the language of the Yup'ik people, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stumbled across the photos on Facebook.

The location of the photo, scrawled on the back of the slide, is pinpointed as Kwiguk, a village that Charles says was relocated downriver in 1964 due to threat of erosion, becoming Emmonak.

"We don't have any photos of my brother when he was little, or even when he was older," says Charles.

The photos, says Charles, offer the younger generation of Yup'ik people a glimpse of their communities in days past.

Charles says another important detail regarding the photos' context is the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which took a deadly toll on Alaska's rural villages.

"For this generation, to see those older photos of older people and say, 'I'm named after this person, I have never had a photo, I've never seen a photo of this person. ' It's finally connecting. "

Charles says he recognizes some 100 people in the slides, around half of whom have since died.

The mid-1970s were a turning point in Alaska's recognition of its indigenous people, language and culture, says Charles.

Abby Augustine, who was just a baby in the early 1960s, is pictured in two photos in the collection.

Discovering the photos was a delight, Augustine tells CNN Travel.

She sent the first photo to her sister Mary Augustine, who is also in the picture, and was a little older at the time.

The photo, Augustine says, looks like it was taken in the summer.

"It was only outsiders who, back then, had photos, or cameras, and so it was very rare for us to capture those special moments," he says.

But Stevens-Johnson, who was 10 years old at the time, says she recalls the photographer, who would've stood out as an unexpected visitor to rural Alaska.

"These photos are not a mystery to me," he says.

One year, Condor asked major airlines to nominate an employee to represent their country in one of his pageants and says Dutch carrier KLM sent a chief flight attendant called Marie Louise Crefcoeur, who he thinks may have been the photographer.

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