Wayne's Warm Welcome

hosted by Wayne Leman
last updated January 13, 2002

My roots: Ninilchik, Alaska

I was born and raised in Alaska. I grew up on the Kenai Peninsula in the Russian-Aleut village of Ninilchik, on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet, 100 miles southeast of Anchorage. I descend from the first family, Mr. and Mrs. Grigorii Kvasnikoff and their children, that settled permanently in our village in 1847. Mr. Kvasnikoff was a church missionary from Kaluga, Russia. His wife, Mavra, was from Kodiak Island in Alaska. Her father, Efim Rastorguev, was Russian and her mother was Agrafena, an Alaskan Native from what we of the village called the "Aleut" people, but which, technically, were Alutiiq, a southern, coastal branch of Eskimos. In 1997 we in our village celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, 150 years of existence. I invite you to visit a Ninilchik home page about our village, its beauty, its history, our old families, and attractions for tourists.

What does "Ninilchik" mean?

As best as we can determine, the word "Ninilchik" is originally from the Denaina word "Niqnilchint." This information comes from the late Kenai elder, Peter Kalifornsky. Peter was not certain of the meaning of this Indian name, but thought it meant something like "Lodge By the River." It is likely that Peter's ancestors used to camp and fish along what is now called Ninilchik River. Peter's people were of the Athabaskan Indian group, not of the Alutiiq ("Aleut") people from the Kodiak and southern Kenai Peninsula area, from whom we of the village of Ninilchik receive our Native blood.

Here are four generations of my family:

This picture was taken in the summer of 1979, when my grandma
was still alive. From left to right we are: my father, Nick Leman,
my grandmother Irene Cooper Leman, me, and my one-year old son,
James, who seems to be intently listening to his great grandmother.

To learn more about the culture of our village, visit Babushka's Country.

To learn about the language of our village, visit Babushka's Language page and the Ninilchik Words page.

Agrafena's Children

I enjoy discovering who all my relatives are from our village. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I put together a large family history and picture book, named Agrafena's Children: the Old Families of Ninilchik, Alaska. I published the first edition of the book for my relatives in 1994. It sold out right away. I am in the middle of work on the second edition of the book, with publication date unknown at this time. For more information on our families and history, visit my website Agrafena's Children: the Old Families of Ninilchik, Alaska. Since 1847, from the one Kvasnikoff couple that began our village, we have now become an extended family of nearly 3,000. We have nine main last names of Kvasnikoff, Oskolkoff, Crawford, Steik, Kelly, Jackinsky, Cooper, Resoff, and Leman, plus hundreds of other last names of relatives who have descended from these nine old families. Our family book is found in the Ninilchik and Kenai, Alaska, community libraries, and has been purchased by many of Agrafena's children. (The book was made for private use of our families and not for commercial distribution.)

My family

My wife and I have four wonderful children, three daughters and one son. They only have two birthdays. I like to state this unique situation in a riddle: "Our son has three twin sisters."

If you would like to see pictures of us, visit my family photo album.

My job: Cheyenne linguistics

Since 1975 my wife and I have worked as linguists for the Cheyenne Indians of Montana and Oklahoma.

To learn more about our work, visit my Cheyenne page.
To learn about the Cheyenne language, visit the Cheyenne Language Web Site.

My poetry

Sometimes, when the spirit moves, I write poetry. Some of it is about Ninilchik, where I grew up. Some of it is about relationships in my life. And some is just about things I'm interested in. If you wish to read any of my poems, visit my poetry website.

My music

I have had fun programming some music so that it can be heard on computers. Click here if you wish to see some of my music collections with the option of downloading them.

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