Located two hundred and fifty miles north of the Aleutian Chain, three hundred miles west of the Alaska mainland, separated by forty five miles of Bering Sea are the Pribilof Islands. The northern fur seals of the Pribilof Islands have long attracted hunters from the native peoples of the Bering Sea area to Russian traders to later, the United States Government.
When Russian traders discovered the world’s largest single herd of mammals, the northern fur seal on the islands of Saint George and Saint Paul, the Seal Islands became the primary site of the world’s fur seal industry. This industry generated conflict between nations and peoples for the last two hundred years from the Russian discovery in 1786 until Alaska statehood in 1959. An international conservation agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Japan (1911) has insured the preservation of the flourishing herds on the islands of St. Paul and St. George in an important example of the principle of international arbitration. The Seal Islands possess outstanding historical significance to the themes of industry, conservation, and ethnic heritage.
Today, remnants of the fur seal industry can be seen on Saint George and Saint Paul. The boundary of the historic district includes representatives of both commercial harvesting and processing, significant historical and archaeological sites, and the living history of the unique labor force.