District of Alaska
The District of Alaska was the governmental designation for Alaska from May 17, 1884 to August 24, 1912, when it became Alaska Territory. It had been known as the Department of Alaska. At the time, legislators in Washington, D. C. were occupied with post–Civil War reconstruction issues, had little time to dedicate to Alaska. General Jefferson C. Davis, a U. S. Army officer, was put in charge as the first commander of the Department of Alaska, which between 1884 and 1912 was renamed the District of Alaska and was appointed a civil government by President Chester A. Arthur with the passage of the First Organic Act. During the Department era, Alaska was variously under the jurisdiction of the U. S. Army, the United States Department of the Treasury and the U. S. Navy, but now the area had its own government, it was the discovery of gold in the Yukon in 1896 that brought attention to the United States' northern possession. A wave of fortune hunters clamored for passage to the Klondike, but the Klondike was in Yukon Territory, not Alaska as many a would-be miner believed.
Still, the easiest route was by ship to Dyea, in Southeast Alaska. Miners had their choice of two passes across the mountains to the Yukon fields: The Chilkoot Trail, an old Native route, started in Dyea, the White Pass called Dead Horse Trail, was in Skagway; the Chilkoot Trail was a shorter trip but had a steeper climb. The White Pass was at a lower elevation. Skagway and the White Pass trail had a severe crime problem and led by the infamous badman, Soapy Smith. Smith was killed in Skagway at the Shootout on Juneau Wharf. Alaska still had plenty of gold of its own, many who had failed to make their fortunes in the Klondike strike came back to look for it. An earlier strike had established Juneau in Southeast Alaska, gold was found in Nome in 1899. For several years a prospector named Felix Pedro had been searching in the Tanana Hills of the Interior for a gold-rich creek he had stumbled upon years earlier but had been forced to abandon; as the summer of 1901 drew to a close, Pedro was about to embark with his partner on a 165-mile walk to Circle City for supplies.
He met up with E. T. Barnette, forced to disembark from the steamer Lavelle Young with his entire load of supplies, some of which he sold to Pedro. Replenished with supplies, Pedro continued his search in the area, he struck gold in July 1902. Shortly afterward, Barnette's outpost was transformed into a booming town. Named Fairbanks in honor of U. S. Senator Charles W. Fairbanks, the settlement grew as new businesses arrived; the town had shanties on the fringes, but the center offered many of the economic conveniences of the rest of the U. S. Traffic came through the river, an overland route to Valdez cut days off a trip to the contiguous United States; the Tanana Mining District became a huge gold producer, the metal attracted Americans and Europeans alike. In 1903 the predecessor to the Alaska Railroad began to be built, which would connect from Seward to Fairbanks by 1923, though Alaska still has no railroad connecting it to the lower 48 states. Many people in Alaska found ways to profit from the gold rushes without panning for the metal themselves.
At Ruby Creek, a strike in 1907, a more substantial one in 1910 brought the rush of miners to the area and created the town of Ruby. The steamers the newcomers used required large quantities of wood to keep them moving, residents along the river supplemented their trapping and fishing by maintaining profitable wood lots. Ruby grew from a tent city in 1911 to a river port and had running water in summer, a theater and cafés. By 1917, at the height of the rush, creeks south of Ruby had yielded $875,000 worth of gold. Other precious and semiprecious metals were being mined in Alaska, too copper. In 1910, the richest copper mine in the world started operation at Kennicott in the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains; the mine extracted more than 591,535 tons of copper ore from the earth, at its peak employed more than 800 workers. The more traditional ways of life, fishing, in particular provided a livelihood for many Alaskans after canning was introduced. In 1878 businessmen built the first two canneries at Sitka.
In 1883 the Arctic Pack Company established a cannery at Nushagak Bay in Southwest Alaska, where they were able to exploit the immense runs of salmon. In 1880, two years the Alaska Packing Company opened a cannery across the bay, by 1908, 10 canneries ringed Nushagak Bay in Southwest Alaska. Kodiak's first canneries were built in the late 19th century when word of phenomenal fish runs became widespread. By the turn of the 20th century, commercial fishing was gaining a foothold in the Aleutian Islands. Packing houses salted cod and herring, salmon canneries were opened. Another traditional occupation, continued with no regard for over-hunting, they pushed the bowhead whales to the edge of extinction for the oil in their tissue. The Aleuts soon suffered severe problems due to the depletion of the fur seals and sea otters which they needed for survival; as well as requiring the flesh for food, they used the skins to cover their boats, without which they could not hunt. The Americans expanded into the Interior and Arctic Alaska, exploiting the furbearers and other game on which Natives depended
Nome Gold Rush
The Nome Gold Rush was a gold rush in Nome, Alaska 1899–1909. It is separated from other gold rushes by the ease. Much of the gold was lying in the beach sand of the landing place and could be recovered without any need for a claim. Nome was a sea port without a harbor, the biggest town in Alaska. Together with the Klondike Gold Rush and Fairbanks Gold Rush, Nome was among the biggest gold rushes north of 60 degrees latitude on the North American continent, it shared prospectors with both Klondike and rushes like Fairbanks. It is memorialized in films like North to Alaska. Nome City still exists and the area is mined as Nome mining district and by tourists. Total production of gold from the area is estimated to be 112 metric tons; the center of the Nome Gold Rush was the town of Nome at the outlet of Snake River on the Seward Peninsula at Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. Inupiaq Eskimos had camped for centuries in the Nome area. In the 18th century, they established the port of St. Michael, 125 miles to the southeast, for sailing on Yukon.
Fur traders and whalers from many countries visited the area. A few church missions were established beginning in the 1880s. Gold was found in smaller amounts at Council 1897, the year before Nome, subsequently other places in the area. In September 1898, the "Three Lucky Swedes": Norwegian-American Jafet Lindeberg, two American citizens of Swedish birth, Erik Lindblom and John Brynteson, discovered gold on Anvil Creek and founded Nome mining district. News of the discovery reached the outside world that winter. By 1899, Nome had a population of 10,000. In that year, gold was found in the beach sands for dozens of miles along the coast at Nome, which spurred the stampede to new heights. Thousands more people poured into Nome during the spring of 1900 aboard steamships from the ports of Seattle and San Francisco. More gold seekers from the distant city of Adelaide, Australia set out for Nome aboard the schooner Inca in 1902. By 1900, a tent city on the beaches and on the treeless coast reached 30 miles, from Cape Rodney to Cape Nome.
Many late-comers were jealous of the original discoverers, tried to "jump" the original claims by filing claims covering the same ground. The federal judge for the area ruled the original claims valid, but some of the claim jumpers agreed to share their invalid claims with influential U. S. politicians. One of these, Alexander McKenzie, a Republican from North Dakota, took interest in the gold rush and seized mining claims with the help of a crooked judge, Arthur H. Noyes. Mckenzie's claim-jumping scheme was stopped by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; because of the unrest Fort Davis was established 1900 at the mouth of Nome River, 4 miles east of Nome City. Claim jumping was a problem before the beach gold was found, since it could not be claimed and there was plenty of it; as a matter of fact, the beach gold seems to have been more important than the claimed gold in the creeks. The mining of Nome beach is a good example of gold rushes going through phases of increasing use of machinery and capital.
The first gold on the beach was found with a pan. In the summer of 1899 human powered equipment like sluices and rockers were present. In 1900 small machines together with hoses and pumps were seen at the beach, from around 1902 big companies took over; the season wasn't long. Due to ice, the beaches could only be worked from June to October. Local police forced people with inadequate shelter to leave for the winter. Panning creeks for gold in Alaska is cold; as in Klondike there was a layer of permafrost just below the surface. In Nome different kinds of equipment were used to suck up gravel; the mining methods used were extensive meaning that the amount of soil processed was more important than the efficiency of the equipment that separated gold from sand. By hydraulic methods soil was washed off the creek banks and into sluices either by gravity or suction. Dredges and in some cases mine shafts were used. To facilitate digging the ground was softened with steam. Steam was used for collecting dumps of gravel in the winter.
The gravel was sluiced the next summer. By 1905 Nome had schools, newspapers, a hospital, stores, a post office, an electric light plant and other businesses. A hothouse on the sand-spit across the Snake River provided fresh vegetables; some of the first automobiles in Alaska ran on the planks of Front Street. Travelers going to the mines at Council City rode in heated stages. In 1904 the first wireless telegraph in the United States to transmit over a distance of more than 100 miles began operating in Nome. Messages could be sent from Nome from there by cable to Seattle. Nome had no harbor for ships during the rush, only one for local boats. Ships anchored offshore and people were shuttled ashore in boats. In early summer the coast could still be covered with ice. In that case passengers would be brought ashore by dog sledges. In 1901 a loading crane was in 1905 a wharf; this was by 1907 combined with a tramway. Together with the tramway, 1,400 feet long and freight were brought ashore by wire-pulled lighters.
In 1904 and 1905, gold was found in old beaches above the high-tide mark. The discovery of a second and a third beach renewed mining close to Nome; these strikes, were short-lived. Between 1900–1909 Nome's estimated population reached
Vitus Jonassen Bering known as Ivan Ivanovich Bering, was a Danish cartographer and explorer in Russian service, an officer in the Russian Navy. He is known as a leader of two Russian expeditions, namely the First Kamchatka Expedition and the Great Northern Expedition, exploring the north-eastern coast of the Asian continent and from there the western coast on the North American continent; the Bering Strait, the Bering Sea, Bering Island, the Bering Glacier and the Bering Land Bridge were all named in his honor. Taking to the seas at the age of 18, Bering travelled extensively over the next eight years, as well as taking naval training in Amsterdam. In 1704, he enrolled with the expanding Russian navy of Tsar Peter I. After serving with the navy in significant but non-combat roles during the Great Northern War, Bering resigned in 1724 to avoid the continuing embarrassment of his low rank to Anna, his wife of eleven years. Bering was permitted to keep the rank as he rejoined the Russian navy the same year.
He was selected by the Tsar to captain the First Kamchatka Expedition, an expedition set to sail north from Russian outposts on the Kamchatka peninsula, with the charge to map the new areas visited and to establish whether Asia and America shared a land border. Bering departed from St. Petersburg in February 1725 as the head of a 34-man expedition, aided by the expertise of Lieutenants Martin Spangberg and Aleksei Chirikov; the party took on men as it headed towards Okhotsk, encountering many difficulties before arriving at the settlement. From there, the men sailed to the Kamchatka peninsula, sailing north. In August 1728, Bering decided that they had sufficient evidence that there was clear sea between Asia and America, which he did not sight during the trip. For the first expedition, Bering was rewarded with money, a promotion to the noble rank of Captain Commander, he started preparations for a second trip. Having returned to Okhotsk with a much larger, better prepared, much more ambitious expedition, Bering set off for an expedition towards North America in 1741.
While doing so, the expedition spotted Mount Saint Elias, sailed past Kodiak Island. A storm separated the ships, but Bering sighted the southern coast of Alaska, a landing was made at Kayak Island or in the vicinity. Adverse conditions forced Bering to return, but he documented some of the Aleutian Islands on his way back. One of the sailors died and was buried on one of these islands, Bering named the island group Shumagin Islands after him. Bering himself became too ill to command his ship, at last driven to seek refuge on an uninhabited island in the Commander Islands group in the southwest Bering Sea. On 19 December 1741 Vitus Bering died on the island, given the name Bering Island after him, near the Kamchatka Peninsula from scurvy, along with 28 men of his company. Vitus Bering was born in the port town of Horsens in Denmark to Anne Pedderdatter and her husband Jonas Svendsen and was baptized in the Lutheran church there on 5 August 1681, he was named after a maternal great-uncle, Vitus Pedersen Bering, a chronicler in the royal court, was not long deceased at the time of Vitus Jonassen Bering's birth.
The family enjoyed reasonable financial security, with two of Vitus' elder half-brothers both attending the University of Copenhagen. Vitus however instead signed on at age 15 as a ship's boy. Between 1696 and 1704, Bering travelled the seas, reaching India and the Dutch East Indies while finding time to complete naval officer training in Amsterdam, he would claim to have served on Danish whalers in the North Atlantic, visiting European colonies in the Caribbean and on the eastern seaboard of North America. It was in Amsterdam, that in 1704 and under the guidance of Norwegian-born Russian admiral Cornelius Cruys, Bering enlisted with the Russian navy, taking the rank of sub-lieutenant, he would be promoted in Peter the Great's evolving navy, reaching the rank of second captain by 1720. In that time, it appears he was not involved in any sea battles, but commanded several vessels in dangerous missions, including the transport of a ship from the Azov Sea on Russia's southern coast to the Baltic on her northern coast.
His work in the latter stages of the Great Northern War, for example, was dominated by lightering duties. On 8 October 1713, Bering married Anna Christina Pülse. Over the next 18 years, they had nine children. During his time with the Russian navy – as part of the Great Northern War – he was unable to spend much time with Anna, eleven years Bering's junior and the daughter of a Swedish merchant. At the war's conclusion in 1721, Bering was not promoted like many of his contemporaries; the omission proved embarrassing when, in 1724, Anna's younger sister Eufemia upstaged her by marrying Thomas Saunders a rear-admiral despite a much shorter period of service. In order to save face, the 42-year-old Bering decided to retire from the navy, securing two months' pay and a notional promotion to first captain. Shortly after, the family – Bering, his wife Anna, two young sons – moved out of St. Petersburg to live with Anna's family
Crow Village, Alaska
Crow Village is an unincorporated community on the Kuskokwim River in the U. S. state of Alaska. There are an estimated six residents. Crow Village is located in the Bethel Census Area on the north bank of the Kuskokwim River 6.5 miles by river west of Aniak, just downstream from where the Crow Village Slough flows back into the Kuskokwim River. Crow Village is 86 miles northeast of Bethel. Old Crow Village first appeared on the 1880 U. S. Census as the unincorporated Inuit village of "Toolooka-anahamute". All 59 residents were listed as Inuit, it returned on the 1890 census as "Tulukagnagamiut." It featured all Native. It did not report on the census again; the original village is referred to today as "Old Crow Village", located 1/2 mile east of the present "new" village. Crow Village is, as of 2010, not a part of any census-designated place or Alaska Native Village Statistical Area, so does not have an official population count. Unverified estimates have stated it to have 6 residents. Crow Village was called Tulukarugmiut by the native Yup'ik population, which translates as "Raven Village People".
It is believed to be named that after the boisterous raven population native to the nearby bluff. It has been called Tulukagnag, Toolooka-anahamute and Tulukagangamiut by various explorers and historians. Evidence shows that Kuskokwim Yup'ik began migrating inland from the Bering Sea up the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers around 500 years ago; the first recorded history of Crow Village was in 1843 by Lt. Lavrenty Zagoskin, dispatched by the Russian Navy to conduct reconnaissance in the Alaska Interior for potential forts and trading posts, he traveled to the Kuskokwim River traveling by boat to Bristol Bay portaging across several rivers and entering the Kuskokwim through the headwaters of the Hoholitna. He described the village at that time as one of the two main villages on the Kuskokwim with a year-round population of 100; this village moved up and down the bank with changes in the river's course and appeared in the 1880 census, the first census accounting for Alaska population following the Alaska Purchase in 1867.
That census was completed by Ivan Petrof and listed Crow Village as Toolooka-anahamute with a population of 59. Around 1910, Crow Village was moved about 0.5 mile downstream due to a change in the river sediment pattern. This settlement was referred to as New Crow Village. Crow Village Sam, a future leader of the area's native people, was a youngster at that time and participated in that move. By the 1950s, Crow Village Sam was entrenched as the area's leader. In 1954 he decided the village had to be vacated to stem ongoing issues with epidemics from lack of knowledge that the epidemics were caused by increased contact with white settlers and not directly related to the village itself, he moved the inhabitants upriver 18 miles to Chuathbaluk, a village, abandoned since 1929. Given the length of occupancy of Crow Village by the native population, the site has had several archaeological digs. Archaeologist Aleš Hrdlička recovered some bone material from Old Crow Village in 1930 and took some pictures.
In 1953, archaeologist Wendell H. Oswalt collected tree ring samples at New Crow Village, he would return for a three-week study in 1954 with James Van Stone and again in 1963 for the entire summer. The 1963 dig was the most extensive as they researched 5 dwellings in Old Crow Village and interviewed area natives including Crow Village Sam as part of their research into the cultural history of the area; the findings can be found in the book entitled "The Ethnoarchaeology of Crow Village, Alaska". This project pioneered the use of archeology as a means to augment oral and written sources in constructing a historical ethnography of a Native people; the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 resulted in Crow Village Sam receiving ownership of the land encompassing Crow Village. This claim was inherited by his grandson, David Phillips, who re-settled Crow Village with his family in 1994. David's eldest son, Dakota River Phillips, found the motor of Crow Village Sam's old wind power generator.
His other children, Raven Myst Phillips and Storm Hudson Phillips, found other artifacts like an old reindeer bell. Crow Village, Alaska
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971, constituting at the time the largest land claims settlement in United States history. ANCSA was intended to resolve long-standing issues surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska, as well as to stimulate economic development throughout Alaska; the settlement established Alaska Native claims to the land by transferring titles to twelve Alaska Native regional corporations and over 200 local village corporations. A thirteenth regional corporation was created for Alaska Natives who no longer resided in Alaska; the act is codified as 43 U. S. C. 1601 et seq. When Alaska became a state in 1959, section 4 of the Alaska Statehood Act provided that any existing Alaska Native land claims would be unaffected by statehood and held in status quo, yet while section 4 of the act preserved Native land claims until settlement, section 6 allowed for the state government to claim lands deemed vacant. Section 6 granted the state of Alaska the right to select lands in the hands of the federal government, with the exception of Native territory.
As a result, nearly 104.5 million acres from the public domain would be transferred to the state. The state government attempted to acquire lands under section 6 of the Statehood Act that were subject to Native claims under section 4, that were occupied and used by Alaska Natives; the federal Bureau of Land Management began to process the Alaska government's selections without taking into account the Native claims and without informing the affected Native groups. It was against this backdrop. A 9.2-magnitude earthquake struck the state in 1964. Recovery efforts drew the attention of the federal government, which found that Alaska Natives had the poorest living conditions in the country; the Federal Field Committee for Development Planning in Alaska decided that Natives should receive $100 million and 10% of revenue as a royalty. Nothing was done with this proposal, a freeze on land transfers remained in effect. In 1966, Emil Notti called for a statewide meeting inviting numerous leaders around Alaska to gather and create the first meeting of a committee.
The historic meeting was held October 18, 1966 - on the 99th anniversary of the transfer of Alaska from Russia. Notti presided over the three-day conference as it discussed matters of land recommendations, claims committee's, political challenges the act would have getting through congress. Many respected politicians and business men attended the meeting and delegates were astonished at the attention which they received from well-known political figures of the state; the growing presence and political importance of Natives was evidenced when association leaders were elected to the legislature. Members of the associated gathered and were able to gain seven of the sixty seats in the legislature; when the group met a second time early in 1967, it emerged with a new name, The Alaska Federation of Natives, a new full-time President, Emil Notti. AFN would change the human rights and economic stability of the Alaska Native population forever. In 1968, Governor Walter Hickel summoned a group of Native leaders to work out a settlement that would be satisfactory to Natives.
The group asked for $20 million in exchange for requested lands. They asked for 10% of federal mineral lease revenue. In 1969, President Nixon appointed Hickel as Secretary of the Interior; the Alaska Federation of Natives protested against Hickel's nomination, but he was confirmed. Hickel worked with the AFN, negotiating with Native leaders and state government over the disputed lands. Offers went forth, with each rejecting the other's proposals; the AFN wanted rights to land, while then-Governor Keith Miller believed Natives did not have legitimate claims to state land in light of the provisions of the Alaska Statehood Act. But a succeeding Alaska state administration under Governor William A. Egan would stake out positions upon which the AFN and other stakeholders could agree. Native leaders, in addition to Alaska's congressional delegation and the state's newly elected Governor William A. Egan reached the basis for presenting an agreement to Congress; the proposed settlement terms faced challenges in both houses but found a strong ally in Senator Henry M. Jackson from Washington state.
The most controversial issues that continued to hold up approval were methods for determining land selection by Alaska Natives and financial distribution. In 1968, the Atlantic-Richfield Company discovered oil at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic coast, catapulting the issue of land ownership into headlines. In order to lessen the difficulty of drilling at such a remote location and transporting the oil to the lower 48 states, the oil companies proposed building a pipeline to carry the oil across Alaska to the port of Valdez At Valdez, the oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to the contiguous states; the plan had been approved, but a permit to construct the pipeline, which would cross lands involved in the land claims dispute, could not be granted until the Native claims were settled. With major petroleum dollars on the line, pressure mounted to achieve a definitive legislative resolution at the federal level. In 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law by President Nixon.
It abrogated Native claims to aboriginal lands except those. In return, Natives were paid $963 million; the land and money were to be divided among regional and village tribal corporations established under the law recognizing existing leadership. In