Update: in keeping with Serene and Jade’s approach to keeping their region designs open for approximately a month, Ukivok has closed, and SLurls have therefore been removed from this article, as the host region is under private holding.
As I’ve frequently noted, Serene Footman and Jade Koltai are the creators of what are arguably the most evocative region designs made for Second Life.Each of their creations tends to last for a month, and when available, should not be missed, given they are so beautifully presented and perfectly reflect the physical world locations that form their inspiration.
Each and every design – the majority I have written about in this blog – are exquisite, but I confess there is something about their latest design – Ukivok – that is utterly breathtaking; quite the most visually impressive presentation of a rugged, isolated island, one that offers an informative look at a part of the world perhaps unknown to most.
Our new sim is a recreation of the abandoned Alaskan village of Ukivok … Once home to around 200 Iñupiat, the village is located King Island, which is situated in the Bering Sea, around 64km off the Alaskan coast and 145km from Nome.
– Serene Footman, describing Ukivok
The Iñupiat (or Inupiaq) are native Alaskan people whose traditional territory extends from Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the Canada–United States border. Those who once lived on Ling Island called themselves Aseuluk, “people of the sea” or Ukivokmiut – a name combining the name of the village and “miut”, meaning “people” (and so might translate as “people of Ukivok”).
The village itself seems an impossible place; built against a rocky slope of the island’s flank as it rises at a 45-degree angle from the sea. Houses and community buildings sit upon wooden platforms, themselves standing on stilts, with the platforms rising in uneven tiers, connected by rickety looking wooden walkways and steps. Nestled between the frigid sea below and the desolate upper slopes of the island, the most recognisable building in the village is perhaps the 2-storey faded white block of the former Bureau of Indian Affairs school, the closure of which in the latter part of the 20th century marked the beginning of the end of village life on the island.
For their build, Jade and Footman could not recreate all of King Island, which is 1.6 km wide (and, as an aside, was named thus by Captain James Cook in 1778, in recognition of Lieutenant James King, a member of his crew). Instead, they have focused on the bay the village sits above, and the village itself.
And the reproduction perfectly captures the windswept, elemental look and feel of the now-deserted Ukivok perfectly, including a homage to the school mentioned above. The landing point sits off-shore platform that provides a glorious first look at the island as it rises from the waves, reaching an impressive, and entirely natural 108 metres above the surrounding sea floor.
Even without the village, the island makes for an incredible sight, and it’s clear considerable thought an effort has gone into designing and building it; if you can, make sure you cam all the way around it to fully appreciate the beauty of the design. A board walk links the landing point with the shoreline, where a steep set of steps offer the way up to the first platform – and the start of an adventure up through the village, using steps and ladders (click the latter to ascend / descend them), passing through areas that offer echoes of the lives once lived here, and opportunities to sit and appreciate the island as a whole.
The Ukivokmiut were subsistence hunters and whalers who had lived on King Island for centuries. Their activities on and around the island included hunting for seals and walruses, crab fishing, and gathering bird eggs and other foods.
– Serene Footman, drawing on notes about the Aseuluk of King Island
Above the upper levels of the village are more steps, linking shelves of rock one to the next. Some of these steps might be easy to find, others hidden by the scrub hedges that cling to cliff and slope. Follow one group, and you may find your way to the north-eastern headland, which again offers a stunning view back across the rest of the island to the village. This route will also take you past an homage to an entirely natural tor of rocks that crown the physical world King Island.
The crown of this Jade and Serene’s version is a little different, and lies to the south-east. It is marked by a single statue looking down over the village, and the view gives a further understanding of Ukivok’s seemingly precarious position on the island. Close to the statue is a zip line which descends steeply (and quite rapidly) down to an outcrop of rock and shingle close to the landing point. Should you take the ride, you’ll have to fly back to the landing point or to the island; or you can rest a while on the chairs set out on the rock.
Set under an ideal windlight, surrounded by ocean foam and perfectly placed submerged terrain that is naturally suggestive of rocky shallows close to the island, Ukivok is completed by another superb sound scape. And once having seen it, I think you might find it hard to deny it is one of the natural wonders of Second Life – so many sure you visit it while it is here.