Archpriest Michael James Oleksa of the Russian Orthodox Church passed away during the wee hours Wednesday morning after having suffered a stroke. Oleksa became a prominent figure in the Alaska Diocese after arriving in the state in 1970, when he moved to an Alutiiq village in Kodiak.
His work spanned several decades in many Alaska Native villages, and he is recognized as an Elder by the Alaska Federation of Natives. His work focused on the cultural disconnect between Americans and Alaska Natives, and he gave lectures on Alaska history and culture.
In September, Oleksa visited Atka Village where he gave a lecture on the contributions Unangax̂ people made during the Russian American period, and where he also led church services.
Oleksa made many trips to communities across the Aleutians. The video below is from a 2005 interview in Unalaska for KUCB.