Port Graham Banias

As told by Sergius Moonin & Ralph Ukatish to Gary Malchoff



Well, they used a log and boiling hot water. If a man had a cold they would take and put him in a cover. Soon after that, they figured something better and made it better. Thatís how they got banias.


††††††††† They used spankers (alder stems with leaves to slap their muscles with), what we called taa-rriteq. At the same time they wash their body too! Banias have been around before the Russians discovered Alaska. Bania is called maqiq. At the time they never had banias like weíve got now. They used to get about 2 or 3 dozen smooth rocks (they had certain place to get these flat rocks). They would stack these rocks by the wall and put sand on the sides. They used no more than three dozen rocks. Each rock weighed 5 to 6 pounds. You cannot use white rocks, other wise they explode and they smell so terrible! You have to find real good rocks. They heat the rocks in the middle of the room like barabaras, which are called ciqlluaq. When the rocks get really hot, they use two sticks, one shaped like a shovel, to pick up the rocks. They take the rocks from the fire and place them in a different area. After the rocks are moved, they dump water on them and have bania. They also used wooden pots to heat the water, because they never had metal. Thatís the way they also used to boil their foods, fish, and meat.


Ralph Ukatish on Banias

as told to Gary Malchoff


They used to use them rocks, you know, warm them out side and then they took them inside, when they were hot enough.It took two people to take them in.One inside, they passed the hot rocks with for-shaped sticks. The rocks were set in the corner of the bania, which were used as a stove. Those rocks, they last over night.After using them for a month, they would get a new set and throw out the old ones. The only rocks that they did not get were the white rocks, which would put out a terrible smell when burned.


A.C. Point and English Bay were two good areas to get those round rocks that were used as a stove. Burning wood would also be used under the rocks to keep them hot. The banias were not only used for taking baths but they also lived in them.



Polly's rebuilt barabara and bania

Cliff McGhan's bania

Sergius' well-made bania

Ephim's Popular bania

Riley's cliff-side bania

Ralph Ukatish


Copyright 1981,Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.All rights reserved

Volume 2