Russian Mission is a Central Yup'ik Eskimo village located on the west bank of the Yukon River in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, 25 miles southeast of Marshall.
The first Russian American Company fur trading post on the Yukon River was established at the site in 1837. The settlement was recorded as an Eskimo village called "Ikogmiut," meaning "people of the point," in 1842 by the Russian explorer Zagoskin. A Russian Orthodox mission was established 1857, and the village name was changed to Russian Mission in 1900.
The city was incorporated in 1970. The 2011 Alaska Department of Labor population estimate was 303. A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community. Russian Mission remains a traditional Yup'ik Eskimo village, with subsistence the focus of the culture. Salmon, moose, black bear, porcupine, rabbit, and waterfowl are among favorite harvests.
Although the village was the site of a Russian Orthodox mission station since the 1850's, Roman Catholic missionaries began visiting the area, out of Akulurak, as early as the 1890's. Later they visited out of Pilot Station, Mountain Village and Bethel.
The Roman Catholic churches at Russian Mission have been dedicated under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. An old log building served as the first church. When the old church was no longer usable, a building on the flood plain was donated to be used for a church. That church however, with its history, was destroyed by a flood in the late 1980's. A new church was completed in 1998 and dedicated in October of that year.
Records since the flood indicate that several priests of the Society of Jesus visited Russian Mission on a regular basis. A Diocesan priest also visited regularly from Bethel between 1974 and 1980.
Religious Sisters have ministered at Our Lady of Guadalupe as well, including Sisters of Saint Ann, and Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Presently, parishes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks are served on a rotating schedule by ministry teams which may include priests, deacons, religious and trained lay staff members. Celebrations of the Word with Holy Communion may replace Sunday Mass when a priest is unavailable. Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish is served by visiting ministers of Diocesan Y-K Subregion C.