This essay focuses on the settlement, cultural, and economic history of Alaska. Alaska is large in land area (375 million acres) but small in population (732,000 people, including 110,000 Alaskan Natives). I discuss how successive settlers – Athabascan and Tlingit Indians, Yuit and Inupiat Eskimos, Aleuts, Russians, and Americans – exploited Alaska’s natural resources and how the state has found an uneasy balance between development and conservation. I wrote these lectures for Stanford family trips in Alaska in 2008 and 2011.
I first discuss how Alaska was settled, how Native Alaskans have adapted, how the Russian American Company operated (1799-1867), and why Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. I next examine the gold, copper, and salmon booms that triggered American settlement in Alaska (1880s-1930s) and why the territory prospered during and after World War II. I then look at land-use trade-offs in Alaska after statehood in 1959 – the state’s goals for economic development and oil-and-gas production, the settlement of Alaskan Native land claims, and the status of conservation of Alaskan lands. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of the sites that I visited in Alaska and Siberia.
A Voyage in Alaska and Siberia Aboard The World, Wrangell, Petersburg, Haines, Tlingit, Hoonah (Icy Strait Point), Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Cordova, Anchorage, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Provideniya, Russian Siberia, Nome, Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park, Denali National Park, Fairbanks, Ship-based, Aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird, Juneau, Endicott Arm, Dawes Glacier, Thomas Bay and Petersburg, Chatham Strait, Baranof and Admiralty Islands, George Island and Inian Islands, Glacier Bay National Park, Pavlof Harbor, Sitka, Wild Alaska – The Bering Sea and Alaska, Ship-based, Aboard the Clipper Odyssey, Little Diomede Island, Big Diomede Island, Russian Siberia, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Hall and St. Matthew Islands, St. George, Pribilof Islands, Dutch Harbor, Unalaska Island, The Aleutian Islands, Unga Island, Shumagin Islands, The Aleutian Islands, Chignik, Alaska Peninsula and Aghiyuk Island, Semidi Islands, Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, Clipper Odyssey Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russian Siberia, Attu, Kiska, and Adak, The Aleutian Islands,Prince William Sound, Valdez, and Kayak Island, Chichagof Island and Tracy Arm, Misty Fjords Wilderness Area, Metlakatla, Annette Island, Ketchikan, and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada,