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Fishermen's memorial planned for Unalaska

Courtesy of Karel Machálek
Model of the proposed fishermen's memorial for Unalaska.

Unalaska may be getting its first fishermen’s memorial sometime next year.

Across the island plaques and statues commemorate the Aleutians’ World War II history, but there’s nothing to honor the legacy of fishermen lost at sea.

Local sculpture artist Karel Machálek wants to change that.

He’s currently at work on a life-sized fishermen’s memorial. The piece will include three fishermen cast in bronze—a longliner, crab, and cod fisherman.

Marie Machálek, Karel’s wife, says they got the idea while traveling around Iceland years ago. “Every little village in Iceland had some kind of fishing memorial. And they’re beautiful monuments,” she said.

Karel made a model of the memorial and proposed the project to the City of Unalaska earlier this year. Marie says the proposal was approved, but the location has not yet been confirmed. The current plan is to erect the memorial in the Carl E. Moses Boat Harbor.

The construction is already underway. The statues are currently being cast in the Czech Republic, where Karel is originally from. But he says there’s a lot more work yet to be done, and a big part of that involves fundraising.

Karel says the city has agreed to allocate $250,000 toward the project, which is estimated to cost half a million $500,0000. He is raising the remaining funds through the Rusting Man Foundation. He is president of the organization and his wife is vice president.

Rusting Man hosts the annual Aleutian Electrocution, a summer arts festival in Unalaska. This year all proceeds from the festival will go toward funding the fishermen’s memorial.

The Aleutian Electrocution will take place July 28-30. Tickets are on sale at the Norwegian Rat Saloon.

Laurelin Kruse is a writer and radio producer from rural Colorado. She has a BA in American Studies from Yale, and she learned radio at the Transom Story Workshop in Massachusetts, where she reported stories for the local public radio station. Kruse is excited to spend the summer roaming the tundra and doing stories for the Unalaska community.
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