September 01, 2006

The Bering Strait

charting a passage between two worlds

The strait that runs between the easternmost point of Asia and the western extremity of the Americas is not particularly wide – 35 kilometers at its narrowest point and 86 at its widest. But, if you consider how harsh nature is here, how forcefully the two oceans – the Arctic and the Pacific – batter one another as they meet here, how long the sunless winters endure, how quickly the cold summers flit by, how ice floes drift through the cold, grey water, you might feel that you are faced with an insurmountable barrier dividing two worlds. 

But, in fact, that is not how it was. During distant, primeval times, on several occasions the earth rose up and a bridge was formed linking America and Asia. This is how the ancestors of today’s Chukchi, Eskimos, and Aleuts made their way from Siberia to Alaska and then spread throughout the Americas. Then another thousand years passed, and the land bridge disappeared under the oceans. Two worlds were again divided. True, it is known that, during especially cold winters, when the Arctic froze over, the denizens of Chukotka set out toward the East and made their way to the not-so-distant lands of America. It is said that they do so even today. 

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