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

Dial Press
Released: 2002-11-12
Paperback (1152 pages)

Alaska: A Novel
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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.
 
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

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'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.

Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land

By Walter R. Borneman

Harper Perennial
Released: 2004-01-20
Paperback (640 pages)

Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land
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The history of Alaska is filled with stories of new land and new riches -- and ever present are new people with competing views over how the valuable resources should be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion call of "Gold!"; soldiers battling out a decisive chapter in world war; oil wildcatters looking for a different kind of mineral wealth; and always at the core of these disputes is the question of how the land is to be used and by whom.

While some want Alaska to remain static, others are in the vanguard of change. Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land shows that there are no easy answers on either side and that Alaska will always be crossing the next frontier.

History of Alaska

By Hubert Howe Bancroft

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (408 pages)

History of Alaska
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Hubert Howe Bancroft was one of the foremost historians on the history of the American Southwest and Mexico, and in addition to writing comprehensive works on the history of various American states in the region, he also wrote the comprehensive History of Alaska, a comprehensive account of the history of Alaska and its society, from aboriginal inhabitants until the 19th century.

Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

By Bathsheba Demuth

W. W. Norton & Company
Released: 2019-08-20
Hardcover (416 pages)

Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait
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A groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between capitalism, communism, and Arctic ecology since the dawn of the industrial age.

Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through the stories of these animals and resources, Bathsheba Demuth reveals how people have turned ecological wealth in a remote region into economic growth and state power for more than 150 years.

The first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada, Floating Coast breaks away from familiar narratives to provide a fresh and fascinating perspective on an overlooked landscape. The unforgiving territory along the Bering Strait had long been home to humans―the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia―before Americans and Europeans arrived with revolutionary ideas for progress. Rapidly, these frigid lands and waters became the site of an ongoing experiment: How, under conditions of extreme scarcity, would the great modern ideologies of capitalism and communism control and manage the resources they craved?

Drawing on her own experience living with and interviewing indigenous people in the region, as well as from archival sources, Demuth shows how the social, the political, and the environmental clashed in this liminal space. Through the lens of the natural world, she views human life and economics as fundamentally about cycles of energy, bringing a fresh and visionary spin to the writing of human history.

Floating Coast is a profoundly resonant tale of the dynamic changes and unforeseen consequences that immense human needs and ambitions have brought, and will continue to bring, to a finite planet.

18 photographs; 7 maps

Spirits of Southeast Alaska: The History & Hauntings of Alaska's Panhandle

By James P. Devereaux

Epicenter Press
Paperback (130 pages)

Spirits of Southeast Alaska: The History & Hauntings of Alaska s Panhandle
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Ghostly footsteps and flickering lights, a silhouette in the window of an abandoned building, a restless presence at the scene of a sunken ship, spectral wails and poltergeist theft of office supplies, mythical Native American legends, and other paranormal happenings scattered across the Alaskan panhandle come together in Spirits of Southeast Alaska, a grand adventure into the historical hauntings of the southeastern corner of the Last Frontier.

Author James Devereaux lived in Alaska for years, working as an archaeologist. Inspired by ghost stories as a child, and by accounts of Alaskan residents of paranormal phenomena in the area, he set out to collect both the ghost stories of Southeast Alaska and their history.

The Black Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway: A History of Four U.S. Army Regiments in the North, 1942-1943

By John Virtue

Brand: McFarland
Paperback (228 pages)

The Black Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway: A History of Four U.S. Army Regiments in the North, 1942-1943
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This is the first detailed account of the 5,000 black troops who were reluctantly sent north by the United States Army during World War II to help build the Alaska Highway and install the companion Canol pipeline. Theirs were the first black regiments deployed outside the lower 48 states during the war. The enlisted men, most of them from the South, faced racial discrimination from white officers, were barred from entering any towns for fear they would procreate a "mongrel" race with local women, and endured winter conditions they had never experienced before. Despite this, they won praise for their dedication and their work. Congress in 2005 said that the wartime service of the four regiments covered here contributed to the eventual desegregation of the Armed Forces.


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