Alaska History - the history of Alaska
   
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Alaska   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Alaska History

   
 

Alaska History


Alaska was first populated by humans who came across from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge. It was via this route that most, if not all, of the pre-Columbian population reached the Americas. The Native American population included Inupiaq, Inuit and Yupik Eskimos, and Aleuts.

The first Europeans to reach Alaska came from Russia. Alaska became a Russian colony in 1744, although the first Russian settlement was founded only in 1784. Spanish ships also explored the coast and made some settlements during the 18th century. The names of some Spanish settlements such as Cordova and Valdez survive to this today.

Following the British North America Act of 1867, which created the unified dominion of Canada, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward urged, and the U.S. Senate approved, a treaty purchasing Alaska from Imperial Russia for US$7,200,000. The U.S. took possession of the territory, and raised the American flag on October 18th, 1867, which is still commemorated as "Alaska day". After the purchase, the area was initially called the Department of Alaska. Between 1884 and 1912, it was called the District of Alaska. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912.

During World War II, three of the outer Aleutian Islands (Attu, Agattu and Kiska) were occupied by Japanese troops. This was the only area within the current borders of the United States to have been occupied by enemy forces during the war.

On January 3rd, 1959, Alaska became a US state. On March 27th, 1964, a major earthquake, known as the "Good Friday Earthquake" or "Great Alaska Earthquake", hit Alaska killing 131 people, and causing tsunamis which destroyed several towns and villages.


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Alaska: A History

By Claus M. Naske

University of Oklahoma Press
Paperback (520 pages)

Alaska: A History
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The largest by far of the fifty states, Alaska is also the state of greatest mystery and diversity. And, as Claus-M. Naske and Herman E. Slotnick show in this comprehensive survey, the history of Alaska’s peoples and the development of its economy have matched the diversity of its land- and seascapes.

Alaska: A History begins by examining the region’s geography and the Native peoples who inhabited it for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The Russians claimed northern North America by right of discovery in 1741. During their occupation of “Russian America” the region was little more than an outpost for fur hunters and traders. When the czar sold the territory to the United States in 1867, nobody knew what to do with “Seward’s Folly.”
 
Mainland America paid little attention to the new acquisition until a rush of gold seekers flooded into the Yukon Territory. In 1906 Congress granted Alaska Territory a voteless delegate and in 1912 gave it a territorial legislature. Not until 1959, however, was Alaska’s long-sought goal of statehood realized. During World War II, Alaska’s place along the great circle route from the United States to Asia firmly established its military importance, which was underscored during the Cold War. The developing military garrison brought federal money and many new residents. Then the discovery of huge oil and natural-gas deposits gave a measure of economic security to the state.
 
Alaska: A History provides a full chronological survey of the region’s and state’s history, including the precedent-setting Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which compensated Native Americans for their losses; the effect of the oil industry and the trans-Alaska pipeline on the economy; the Exxon Valdez oil spill; and Alaska politics through the early 2000s.

Alaska: A Novel

By James A. Michener

The Dial Press
Released: 2013-12-17
Kindle Edition (1152 pages)

Alaska: A Novel
 
Product Description:
In this sweeping epic of the northernmost American frontier, James A. Michener guides us through Alaska’s fierce terrain and history, from the long-forgotten past to the bustling present. As his characters struggle for survival, Michener weaves together the exciting high points of Alaska’s story: its brutal origins; the American acquisition; the gold rush; the tremendous growth and exploitation of the salmon industry; the arduous construction of the Alcan Highway, undertaken to defend the territory during World War II. A spellbinding portrait of a human community fighting to establish its place in the world, Alaska traces a bold and majestic saga of the enduring spirit of a land and its people.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James A. Michener's Hawaii.
 
Praise for Alaska
 
“Few will escape the allure of the land and people [Michener] describes. . . . Alaska takes the reader on a journey through one of the bleakest, richest, most foreboding, and highly inviting territories in our Republic, if not the world. . . . The characters that Michener creates are bigger than life.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Always the master of exhaustive historical research, Michener tracks the settling of Alaska [in] vividly detailed scenes and well-developed characters.”Boston Herald
 
“Michener is still, sentence for sentence, writing’s fastest attention grabber.”The New York Times

Alaska's History: The People, Land, and Events of the North Country (Alaska Pocket Guide)

By Harry Ritter

Alaska Northwest Books
Paperback (144 pages)

Alaska s History: The People, Land, and Events of the North Country (Alaska Pocket Guide)
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A lively, take-along account of Alaska's sweeping history made vivid with historical photos and entertaining essays. Topics covered include Native lifestyles before contact with the Europeans; Alexander Baranov and the Russian fur trade; John Muir's visit to Glacier Bay in 1879; the Klondike gold rush stampede; pioneer climbs on Mount McKinley; the exploits of early Alaska Bush pilots; big game hunting in the North Country; Alaska's fisheries, where salmon is king; and today's Native traditions.

A history book that's fun to read, Alaska's History sets forth the Last Frontier's glorious past and challenging present.

National Geographic Treasures of Alaska: The Last Great American Wilderness (National Geographic Destinations)

By Jeff Rennicke

Brand: National Geographic
Released: 2010-01-19
Paperback (200 pages)

National Geographic Treasures of Alaska: The Last Great American Wilderness (National Geographic Destinations)
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This new look at Alaska as the destination for wilderness experience in America celebrates the many lives and unique landscapes that make up the vast and storied land. The book captures Alaska’s splendor with an astonishing combination of prose and photographs—from mountain ranges glittering with glaciers to lush forests and wetlands teeming with wildlife to fjords exploding with the barks of seals.

Visiting the places and people whose natures are true to the spirit of this still wild frontier, Rennicke and Melford follow a dogsled team up a frozen mountain river in search of an Alaskan Eden; hike along active volcanoes that brim and boil in the Aleutian Islands; summit Mount McKinley with a double-amputee bush pilot in a triumph of spirit and determination over the mountain that almost killed him; and journey back through Alaska’s human history, to the times of the Gold Rush miners, totem pole carvers, and nomadic hunters who crossed the Bering Land Bridge and discovered a new land.

From grizzlies to glaciers, gold fields to ice fields, fishing boats to northern lights, Treasures of Alaska uncovers the wild heart and the endless challenge that make Alaska a land of enduring beauty and undying dreams.

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier

By Mark Adams

Dutton
Released: 2018-05-15
Hardcover (336 pages)

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier
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From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a fascinating, wild, and wonder-filled journey into Alaska, America's last frontier

In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer voyage to the wilds of Alaska: He converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university," populated by some of America's best and brightest scientists and writers, including the anti-capitalist eco-prophet John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity. More than a hundred years later, Alaska is still America's most sublime wilderness, both the lure that draws one million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and as a natural resources larder waiting to be raided. As ever, it remains a magnet for weirdos and dreamers.

Armed with Dramamine and an industrial-strength mosquito net, Mark Adams sets out to retrace the 1899 expedition. Traveling town to town by water, Adams ventures three thousand miles north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continues west into the colder and stranger regions of the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, he encounters dozens of unusual characters (and a couple of very hungry bears) and investigates how lessons learned in 1899 might relate to Alaska's current struggles in adapting to the pressures of a changing climate and world.

The Great Book of Alaska: The Crazy History of Alaska with Amazing Random Facts & Trivia (A Trivia Nerds Guide to the History of the United States)

By Bill O'Neill

Independently published
Paperback (180 pages)

The Great Book of Alaska: The Crazy History of Alaska with Amazing Random Facts & Trivia (A Trivia Nerds Guide to the History of the United States)
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Do you want to learn more about Alaska? Sure, you know it’s cold and dark for a large portion of the year, but what else do you really know about the Last Frontier? There’s so much to learn about the state that even people here don’t know. In this trivia book, you’ll learn more about Alaska’s history, pop culture, folklore, sports, and so much more!

In The Great Book of Alaska, you’ll discover the answers to the following questions:

  • Where did Alaska get its state nickname?
  • Which famous animal hero came from the state?
  • What movie, which was based on a true story, was filmed in the state?
  • What classic American novel was inspired by Alaska’s Klondike Gold Rush?
  • Which Alaskan musician’s family has a reality TV show about life in the state?
  • What serial killer came out of Alaska?
  • What monster is believed to be lurking in Iliamna Lake?
And so much more!

This book is packed with trivia facts about Alaska. Some of the facts are shocking, some of them are sad, and some of them will give you goosebumps, but all of them will be interesting! This book is full of everything you’ve ever wondered about Alaska and then some.

Whether you’re just learning about Alaska or you already think you’re an expert on the state, you’re bound to learn something new in each chapter. Your friends will be amazed at your knowledge during your next trivia night. You’ll even impress your history teacher!

So, what are you waiting for? Dig in to learn everything there is to know about Alaska!


Alaska: A Visual Tour of America's Great Land

By Bob Devine

Devine Bob
Released: 2014-06-24
Hardcover (352 pages)

Alaska: A Visual Tour of America s Great Land
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  • National Geographic Society
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An amazing tour through its history, culture and landscape, Alaska's stunning imagery and informative text makes it the perfect book for those who dream of visiting the 49th state and those who want to celebrate its singular beauty and expansive history.From the lush rainforests of the Inside Passage, to the desolate beauty of the far north, Alaska's natural wonders never cease to enthrall and amaze. Join National Geographic on this spectacular visual journey through seven distinct geographic regions of this amazing state, bringing each region alive through brisk historical narrative and lavish color photography, art, and maps. Whether to learn, to visit, or simply to dream--National Geographic's Alaska provides readers with an incomparable tour.

The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness

By James Campbell

James Campbell
Released: 2005-09-13
Paperback (320 pages)

The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska s Arctic Wilderness
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  • The Final Frontiersman Heimo Korth and His Family Alone in Alaska s Arctic Wilderness
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The inspiration for The Last Alaskans—the eight-part documentary series on the Discovery Channel! Called “[one of] the greatest life-or-death-tales ever told” (Esquire), James Campbell’s inimitable insider account of a family’s nomadic life in the unshaped Arctic wilderness “is an icily gripping, intimate profile that stands up well beside Krakauer’s classic [Into the Wild], and it stands too, as a kind of testament to the rough beauty of improbably wild dreams” (Men’s Journal).

Hundreds of hardy people have tried to carve a living in the Alaskan bush, but few have succeeded as consistently as Heimo Korth. Originally from Wisconsin, Heimo traveled to the Arctic wilderness in his feverous twenties. Now, more than three decades later, Heimo lives with his wife and two daughters approximately 200 miles from civilization—a sustainable, nomadic life bounded by the migrating caribou, the dangers of swollen rivers, and by the very exigencies of daily existence.

In The Final Frontiersman, Heimo’s cousin James Campbell chronicles the Korth family’s amazing experience, their adventures, and the tragedy that continues to shape their lives. With a deft voice and in spectacular, at times unimaginable detail, Campbell invites us into Heimo’s heartland and home. The Korths wait patiently for a small plane to deliver their provisions, listen to distant chatter on the radio, and go sledding at 44° below zero—all the while cultivating the hard-learned survival skills that stand between them and a terrible fate.

Awe-inspiring and memorable, The Final Frontiersman reads like a rustic version of the American Dream and reveals for the first time a life undreamed by most of us: amid encroaching environmental pressures, apart from the herd, and alone in a stunning wilderness that for now, at least, remains the final frontier.

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush

By Howard Blum

Crown
Released: 2011-04-26
Kindle Edition (434 pages)

The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush
 
Product Description:
New York Times bestselling author Howard Blum expertly weaves together three narratives to tell the true story of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.

It is the last decade of the 19th century. The Wild West has been tamed and its fierce, independent and often violent larger-than-life figures--gun-toting wanderers, trappers, prospectors, Indian fighters, cowboys, and lawmen--are now victims of their own success. But then gold is discovered in Alaska and the adjacent Canadian Klondike and a new frontier suddenly looms: an immense unexplored territory filled with frozen waterways, dark spruce forests, and towering mountains capped by glistening layers of snow and ice.

In a true-life tale that rivets from the first page, we meet Charlie Siringo, a top-hand sharp-shooting cowboy who becomes one of the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s shrewdest; George Carmack, a California-born American Marine who’s adopted by an Indian tribe, raises a family with a Taglish squaw, and makes the discovery that starts off the Yukon Gold Rush; and Jefferson "Soapy" Smith, a sly and inventive conman who rules a vast criminal empire.

As we follow this trio’s lives, we’re led inexorably into a perplexing mystery: a fortune in gold bars has somehow been stolen from the fortress-like Treadwell Mine in Juneau, Alaska. Charlie Siringo discovers that to run the thieves to ground, he must embark on a rugged cross-territory odyssey that will lead him across frigid waters and through a frozen wilderness to face down "Soapy" Smith and his gang of 300 cutthroats. Hanging in the balance: George Carmack’s fortune in gold.

At once a compelling true-life mystery and an unforgettable portrait of a time in America’s history, The Floor of Heaven is also an exhilarating tribute to the courage and undaunted spirit of the men and women who helped shape America.

Product Description:
New York Times bestselling author Howard Blum expertly weaves together three narratives to tell the true story of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.

It is the last decade of the 19th century. The Wild West has been tamed and its fierce, independent and often violent larger-than-life figures--gun-toting wanderers, trappers, prospectors, Indian fighters, cowboys, and lawmen--are now victims of their own success. But then gold is discovered in Alaska and the adjacent Canadian Klondike and a new frontier suddenly looms: an immense unexplored territory filled with frozen waterways, dark spruce forests, and towering mountains capped by glistening layers of snow and ice.

In a true-life tale that rivets from the first page, we meet Charlie Siringo, a top-hand sharp-shooting cowboy who becomes one of the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s shrewdest; George Carmack, a California-born American Marine who’s adopted by an Indian tribe, raises a family with a Taglish squaw, and makes the discovery that starts off the Yukon Gold Rush; and Jefferson "Soapy" Smith, a sly and inventive conman who rules a vast criminal empire.

As we follow this trio’s lives, we’re led inexorably into a perplexing mystery: a fortune in gold bars has somehow been stolen from the fortress-like Treadwell Mine in Juneau, Alaska. Charlie Siringo discovers that to run the thieves to ground, he must embark on a rugged cross-territory odyssey that will lead him across frigid waters and through a frozen wilderness to face down "Soapy" Smith and his gang of 300 cutthroats. Hanging in the balance: George Carmack’s fortune in gold.

At once a compelling true-life mystery and an unforgettable portrait of a time in America’s history, The Floor of Heaven is also an exhilarating tribute to the courage and undaunted spirit of the men and women who helped shape America.

Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer

Random House
Released: 1997-01-20
White Paperback (240 pages)

Into the Wild
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  • Random House Into the Wild, Paperback by Jon Krakauer - 9780385486804
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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his  cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life.  Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said  to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.


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