Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fairbanks: A Timeline

Fairbanks:  A Timeline

Aerial View of Ladd Army Airfield, 1943

1938-1942:  Establishment of Ladd Army Airfield
In 1938, the United States military began purchasing land southeast of Fairbanks.  During the next few years, Ladd Army Airfield was built to defend Alaska against enemy attacks.

lend-a-lease airplane

1942-1945: Military Lend-Lease Program
During WW II, the United States helped supply aircraft to the eastern front by transporting aircraft from the lower 48 to Ladd Army Airfield, near Fairbanks, where they were outfitted for the weather and battle, and then flown by Soviet pilots across Alaska and Siberia to the the eastern front.

Alaska Constitutional Convention

1955-1956: Constitutional Convention
In an effort to further the cause of statehood, a constitutional convention was held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus during the the winter of 1955-1956.  The Alaskan constitution was approved by voters in February of 1956.  

President Eisenhower signing the Alaska Statehood Act

1959:  Alaska Achieves Statehood
In 1958 Congress passed the Alaska Statehood Bill.  On January 3, 1959,  President Eisenhower signed the making, officially making Alaska the 49th state.

Howard Rock preparing the Tundra Times

1962: Founding of the Tundra Times Newspaper  
The Tundra Times Newspaper was founded by Howard Rock, an Alaska Native from Point Hope.  This newspaper, which was based out of Fairbanks, was written by Alaska Natives and covered topics and issues that were significant in the lives of Alaska Natives.

Article Announcing the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
1971:  Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
This was the largest Native claims settlement ever reached between the U.S. government and the Native Americans.  This settlement awarded Alaska Natives 43.7 million acres of land, $962.5 million dollars as compensation for land given up and the creation of regional and village corporations to help distribute and manage the land and money.

Three Cause-Effect Statements
1.  Because Ladd Army Airfield was built just south of Fairbanks from 1938-1942, military aircraft were able to be transported to Ladd Army Field, where they were outfitted for weather and battle and then transported over Alaska and Siberia to be used by Soviet soldiers on the eastern front of WWII as part of the Lend-Lease Program from 1942-1945.

2.  Because an Alaskan Constitution was created in Fairbanks during the Constitutional Convention in the winter of 1955-56, politicians were able to strongly advocate for statehood, which was officially granted on January 3, 1959 by President Eisenhower.

3.  Because the Tundra Times Newspaper brought a voice to issues affecting Alaska Natives, they began to unify and strengthen their own Civil Right Movement, which eventually helped to bring about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Module IX-Alaska Governance and Contemporary Issues

Module IX-Alaska Governance and Contemporary Issues

Describe the major reasons given for statehood and explain how those reasons are reflected in the Alaska State Constitution.

Quite simply, the reason why Alaskans wanted statehood was because they wanted to have the power to make more decisions regarding the area that they resided in. 

Prior to Alaska Statehood in 1959, Alaskan government consisted of a governor appointed by the president and a territorial legislator that had very limited decision making powers.

However, the vast majority of important decisions that affected Alaskan residents, including the passage of laws, management of land and and the ability to impose taxes were made by the Federal government.

Alaska Constitutional Convention
In an effort to further the cause of gaining statehood, the Alaska Territorial Legislature passed an act in 1955 that authorized a constitutional convention.

The Alaska Constitutional convention took place in Fairbanks during the winter of 1955-1956.

In April of 1956, Alaskans voted on and approved the Alaska Constitution.

On January 3, 1959, Alaska became a state.

The Alaska Constitution is full of provisions that grant more control of Alaska to Alaskan residents.

Three of these provisions are of particular importance to Alaska residents.

President Eisenhower signing the Alaska Statehood Document
First, the state was granted the right to choose a percentage of Alaskan land for exclusive state ownership (Article 8, Section 6).  Article 8 further specifies that the state has the power to make decisions about how the land is utilized (Article 8, Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12).

Second, the state was granted the ability to manage fish and game throughout most of Alaska (Article 8, especially sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 15).

Third, the state was granted the right to impose taxes and receive a large portion of mineral lease sales and royalty payments on state land (Article 8, sections 11, 12; Article 9, sections 1, 5, 6).

Two other more recent aspects of the Alaska Constitution that reflect the state's strong desire for self government are the Alaska Permanent Fund (Article 9, section 15), which provides a dividend check once a year to all residents of Alaska and the Budget Reserve Fund (Article 9, section 17), which is the state's "Rainy Day" fund.

Identify the Alaska Native Regional Corporation in the Area of Alaska where you live.  Examine its website and describe its mission and its current business ventures.

Doyon, Limited is the Native Regional Corporation for Interior Alaska
Shareholders of Doyon, Limited

  "...to continually enhance our position as a financially strong Native corporation in order to promote the economic and social well-being of our shareholders and future shareholders, to strengthen our Native way of life and to protect and enhance our land and resources" (quoted from Doyon, Limited)

  • Financially responsible
  • Pride and respect in Native ownership
  • Socially and culturally responsible
  • Commitment to the long-term
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Commitment to excellence
  • Respect for employees
  • (Quoted from Doyon, Limited)
Doyon Plaza

Facts about the corporation
Concluding Thoughts

I really enjoyed studying the process that Alaska went through to become a state.  It would have been so exciting to be living in Alaska during this time period.

I must admit that I am not a very political oriented person and most of the information in the government section was new to me.

I also was appalled to find out that the Permanent Fund has significant shares in the Tobacco Industry.  I don't understand why ethical principles are not a bigger aspect of the investment decisions made by the Permanent Fund Board.

There was so much important information crammed into this module.  I feel like it should be split into two modules for future classes.  To compensate, I think that some of the earlier modules from the class could be condensed.

Blog Reviews

Robin gives a nice overview of the pros and cons of World War II on Alaska and a nice overview of the Aleutian Campaign.  She also has wonderful pictures.

Christy gives a nice overview of the Aleut evacuation.  I also related to her comments about blogging being very time consuming.

Marg has a great section on what was happening in Ketchikan during the war.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Module VIII-World War II

Module VIII -World War II

Describe the legacy of World War II for Alaska.  What happened in Alaska after the war that is largely attributed to World War II?  What are Alaskan's living with today that is attributable to WWII?

The greatest legacy of World War II for Alaska are the many military bases that were established throughout the state.

Nearly all of the military bases that are present and operating in Alaska today were built and put into operation during World War II.  These military bases have had and continue to have a profound effect on the culture and economy of the communities that they reside in. 

Coast Guard Helicopter on Kodiak Island
Kodiak, where I lived for five years, has a large Coast Guard Base (which originally began as a Navy Base).   During my time in Kodiak, many of my friends and associates from school, church and community activities were "coasties".

Although I never had any formal ties with the coast guard I attended many social and recreational events on the base, including weddings, brunches, senior prom, swimming at the recreation center and walking at Jewel Beach. 

In Fairbanks, where I presently live, the school that I work at is located very close to Fort Wainwright Army Base (which originally began as Ladd Airfield).  We have many students at our school who's family are in the military.

This presents unique challenges as many of these families have a deployed member, and our population tends to be very transient.

This also creates opportunities for our school community.  This coming Thursday, our school is hosting a celebration to honor the military families that attend our school.

Fort Wainwright Soldiers completing training exercises
The military bases have a huge impact on the economy of their surrounding communities by providing employment opportunities and bringing new members of the workforce into the community.

In addition to the enlisted members of the military, many individuals work for the United States Government on and around these bases on a contract capacity.

Spouses and other family members of military personnel often obtain employment in the communities where they are stationed.  At my elementary school we currently have three teachers who are military spouse's.

Beginning of the Alaska Highway
Another major legacy of World War II in Alaska are the many communication and transportation developments that occurred during this time.

Many of the roads that connect the various regions of Alaska were constructed or upgraded during the war.

The Alaska Highway, which connects Alaska with the rest of the continental United States, was built by the military during World War II.

Many modern airstrips were also first built during World War II.

In summary, it is largely because of Alaska's involvement in World War II that we have many large military bases in operation today, and a relatively easy time with transportation both within Alaska and outside of Alaska.  
Describe the Major Events in the Aleutian Campaign of World War II.

Dutch Harbor After Japanese Attack, June 3, 1942
June-The Japanese Bomb Dutch Harbor and occupy the Islands of Attu and Kiska in the westernmost Aluetians.

Americans immediately begin bombing raids on Attu and Kiska and air to air fights with Japanese aircraft in an effort to retake Attu and Kiska.  

During this time American submarines also attack Japanese ships carrying supplies and arms to Attu and Kiska.

February-The last air-to-air fight between Japanese and American planes over the Aleutian Islands.

March-United States Navy ships intercept Japanese ships attempting to transport more troops to Kiska.  This "Battle of the Commander Islands" causes the Japanese to retreat.

After this battle the Japanese are isolated and only occasionally able to receive supplies snuck in from destroyers and submarines.

Late April-Invasion force arrives in Alaska and gathers at Cold Bay.

Soldiers hauling supplies on Attu May 1943
May 11-29-United States Attacks and recaptures Attu.

Of the 15,000 American troops sent ashore, over 3,697 were killed or wounded due to battle or weather related injuries.

Only 29 of the 2,400 Japanese troops on the Island survived the battle.

After Attu is retaken the Americans began to plan the recapture of Kiska.  Runways are built on Attu and Shemya Island, troops are assembled and bombing raids on Kiska increase.

During this time the Japanese attempt to remove their troops by submarine.  The Japanese eventually abandon these attempts because American forces sink many of their submarines.

July 28-The Japanese manage a secret escape of Kiska.

Japanese occupation site on Kiska Island
A series of radar contacts are reported 200 miles south of Kiska.  These radar contacts temporarily divert the American Navy away from Kiska, allowing two Japanese cruisers and six destroyers to quickly enter Kiska harbor and carry away the remaining Japanese troops.

Unaware of the Japanese escape, the Americans continue to attack Kiska by air and plan an invasion, thinking that the Japanese might simply have retreated inland.

August 15-A combined invasion force of 144,000 American and Canadian troops go ashore on Kiska and find the Japanese gone.


This section once again brought back memories of my time spent in Kodiak.  I remember hiking, camping, running, beach combing, picnicking and berry picking at Fort Ambecrombie State Park, which is full of World War II history.  I also remember seeing bunkers on hills and cliffs all over the Island.

This section also made me contemplate the huge impact that the military has on Alaskan Life.  If all of the military bases were shut down, I think Alaska would change drastically.

I found the readings about the Aleutian Campaign fascinating.  It made me so sad to think about the miserable weather conditions that the soldiers had to fight in and how unprepared they were for these conditions.  The readings also made me feel sad for the Japanese soldiers on Attu, who were so outnumbered by the Americans, and who in many cases jumped off of a cliff rather than surrender. 

Three Blogs

Claire gives a nice overview of Sheldon Jackson's influence on education in Alaska.  She also has an interesting section on healthcare in Girdwood.

Kristin has some great pictures.  She also gives a nice overview of factors that have influenced settlement patterns in Alaska.

Chris also has a great picture of a moose and a policeman and a thought provoking section about Sheldon Jackson.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Module VII-American Period: Society

Module VII-American Period: Society

How have the settlement patterns of Alaska been a reflection of the natural landscape, distance, resources and the economy?

Alaska Gold Nugget
Natural Resources ( which are always the result of the natural landscape, and which in turn affect the economy)

The discovery of gold and oil are two examples of this impact.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, major gold discoveries in several parts of the state spurred new settlements. 

After the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, many Alaskan towns grew rapidly as people came to build the pipeline and work in the oil fields.

Fort Greely
Distance (which is always related to natural resources and landscapes)

The military and oil discovery are two examples of this impact.

Our state's isolated location, separation from the lower forty-eight and close proximity to Russia are the reasons why the military has had such a strong presence, and thus caused many members of the military and their families to settle in Alaska. 

The reason why the Alyeska Pipeline was built, and thus caused so many people to move to Alaska,  was because the distance between the oilfields and a thawed ocean port was vast.

Alaska Pipeline
Economy (which always relates to natural resources, natural landscape, and distance)

 Throughout American ownership of Alaska, many communities were created or increased as a result of mining, fishing, oil extraction, logging, tourism, military presence and other economic activities.

While many of these communities were abandoned after the economic activity ceased, many of these communities are still in existence today.

In larger communities, such as Anchorage and Fairbanks, hospitals, schools, military bases, universities, stores and other businesses continue to support the local economies.

Villagers Butchering Whale in Kaktovik
Another example of the economy influencing settlement patterns are the many small, rural villages in Alaska.

Because most of the villages have a subsistence lifestyle with no real economic development, many villages have been abandoned or experienced a decline in population as people have moved to places where they could go to school or obtain employment.

Since the 1870's, what are the types of communities that have evolved in Alaska?

Mining Camp at Record City, Alaska 1903
Mining Camp Communities

Many towns developed as a result of the thousands of gold prospectors that flooded to Alaska after the discovery of gold.

The buildings and living quarters for these communities were typically tents or temporary log structures.  Many of these towns only lasted a short time and were considered very "rough" and "wild".

Saloons, gambling houses and dance halls were plentiful in these towns.  In some of these communities, shootouts and brawls were common.

Nome and Circle City began as mining camp towns.

Abandoned Community at Kennecott Mine
Company Towns

After the initial gold stampedes, large mining companies began setting up operations in Alaska.  Many of these companies developed towns on the land that they owned.

These towns typically consisted of boarding houses, offices and other community buildings such as bowling alleys, swimming pools and reading rooms.

Most company towns are no longer in existance.  The Kennecott Copper Mines, Treadwell Gold mines, and Chatanika Gold Fields were three places that had company towns.

Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska
Military Posts

American Alaska has experienced two time periods of major military growth.

During the early gold rush years, seven military posts were established in Alaska.  Sitka was heavily impacted by its military post. 

During World War II, several naval stations, army posts and airfields were established throughout Alaska. Kodiak and Fairbanks are two communities that were and continue to be heavily impacted by their military posts.
Military posts in many ways were and are complete communities.  Fort Wainwright here in Fairbanks has a grocery store, hospital, childcare center, recreation facilities and housing.

Traintracks in Nenana, Alaska
Transportation and Communication  Center Towns

Many new Alaskan communities were established along the routes that roads, railroads, cable and telegraph systems were built. 

These communities were often more well-rounded and family oriented than mining camp communities and company towns.  In 1908 the community of Cordova had schools, churches, furniture manufacturers and several types of small shops.

Anchorage, Cordova and Nenana were settled largely as a result of the roads, railroad and waterways that were build and used for transportation.  

Village on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska
Alaska Native Communities

Many Alaska Natives have lived and continue to live in small rural communities that were and are still predominately Native.  These communities have a strong subsistence lifestyle.  Kongiganak and Point Hope are two of these types of communities.

The village corporations that were established as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 was created in part to help these small, rural communities continue to survive.

Wasilla, Alaska

Suburbs were established in the 1970's when Alaska's population nearly doubled  as a result of the building of the pipeline, and new roads.  Eagle River and North Pole are examples of these types of communities.

Concluding Paragraph

It was hard for me to clearly separate and explain how natural landscape, resources, distance and economy have contributed to settlement patterns, because all of these factors are very interconnected and each settlement in Alaska has been influenced by all four of these factors.

It is so interesting for me to think of what it would have been like to live in Alaska prior to the oil discovery at Prudhoe Bay and then see the huge increase in population that occurred when the pipeline began to be built.  

I really liked the small changes that were made to this module that make it clearer.  I like how the "required" readings were separated from the "nice to know" readings.  This helped me to see more clearly what the instructors felt was important for me to know, understand and write about.  

I also felt like the questions were a little clearer and easier to understand.
Three Blog Reviews

Dianne gives a good overview of communication systems development in Alaska.

Brad makes a lot of good connections between communication development in Alaska and the impacts on Native Culture and the environment.  He also has a nice list of lesson topics related to transportation.

Marg has a very well constructed blog.  She has some great links and a wonderful overview and pictures of ten roads in Alaska.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Module VI-American Period: Transportation and Communication

Module VI-American Period:  Transportation & Communication
What are issues facing Alaskans today related to transportation and communication?

This past week was Spring Break and as a result my husband, daughter and I drove down to Homer to spend a few days with my mother, who lives there.

During our trip, we had the opportunity to accompany a contract postal worker on one of his biweekly mail delivery trips across the Katchemak Bay to the small community of Little Tutka.
The mailboat tied to the Dock at Little Tutka on March 16,2012
This experience caused me to contemplate two of the major issues related to transportation that exist in Alaska today.

The first issue is hazardous travel conditions.

The day we rode in the small mail boat, the weather was cold and windy, and the waves were big.  The ride was fun and exciting but also scary!

When we were safely back on land my mom, who frequently rides across the bay, said that these were the biggest waves that she had ever experienced.

The postal worker we rode with did not seem at all concerned.  After the trip, I asked him what his criteria was for cancelling a trip, and he said that the waves would have to be “bigger and steeper”.

These comments caused me to reflect about all of the weather and terrain related risks that we as Alaskan’s take, such as flying in small planes in stormy skies and riding in small boats over stormy seas to simply get from place to place and to deliver mail and goods.

When I lived in Kodiak, I remember many times when I would get “weathered out” and have to spend the night in Anchorage on my way back home from a trip.

Residents, such as myself that live in Fairbanks, Anchorage and the other larger Alaskan communities that are connected to a major road system and have a larger airport are definitely spoiled!

Me, my husband, daughter and mother in the mailboat when we arrived safely back to Homer

In general, I think that most Alaskans are generally more adventurous, and willing to take more travel risks than the average American.

The second major issue is the increased cost of transportation and communication in and out of and within Alaska.

During my recent mail boat experience, I discovered that there are only four permanent residents of the community of Little Tutka.  I cannot even imagine how much money the United States Postal Service must spend to pay for contract mail services to this little community and others like it.

In my own personal life, I have felt the effects of high transportation costs.

For the past two summers, my daughter was under two years old and was able to fly for free as a “lap infant”, making airline travel somewhat affordable.  Now that she is two and must have her own ticket, I imagine that most of our future travel will consist of road trips in Alaska.

I experienced another example of this high cost of transportation when I attended high school in Kodiak and Barrow.

Every time I would travel for a school activity, such as a sports or music event, the school would pay for my plane ticket, along with the plane tickets of all the coaches, teachers, and chaperones.  The school would also pay for the rental vehicles and sometimes hotel rooms for everyone.

The activities budget for high schools in rural Alaska must be HUGE!  This money is spent just to be able to provide students with the typical activities that most American high school students are able to participate in with a simple bus ride.

This high cost of airline travel to and from and within Alaska creates a unique aspect of Alaskan culture in which people sign up for various credit cards, spend certain amounts of money on certain items, give up their seats on overbooked flights to get free future use tickets, cash in their dividends and figure out other creative methods of obtaining affordable plane tickets, to simply go on a short trip or visit relatives.
Identify the three major railroads in Alaska history - where? when? why? ownership?current status?
White Pass and Yukon Railway
White Pass and Yukon Railway

The White Pass and Yukon Railway went from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  Construction on the railway began in 1898 and was completed in 1900.

The railroad was largely financed by British investors.  A contractor named John Heney oversaw the construction of the railroad.

This railroad was built to serve the Canadian Klondike gold rush stampeders.  After the gold rush ended, it was used to transport ore from Canadian mines to Skagway, and to transport tourists from Skagway to Whitehorse.

During World War II, the railroad was “loaned” to the United States Government for use in hauling war supplies to Whitehorse.

After World War II, this railroad slowed down and again continued to haul tourists and freight.

When a highway was connected between Whitehorse and Skagway in the 1970’s, the railroad business greatly declined leaving its future uncertain.   The railroad was shut down in 1982 when low mineral prices caused a collapse of the mining industry.

The railway was reopened in 1988 as a seasonal tourism service.  Today it continues to serve summer tourists by taking them from Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon, which is the first first 67.5 miles of the original 110 mile route.

Alaska Railroad
The Alaska Railroad

The Alaska Railroad ran from Seward to Fairbanks, with a section going to the coal fields in the Matanuska River.  It was meant to be a main route between an ice-free port in the Gulf of Alaska and Interior Alaska.

Although businessmen dreamed of building this railroad as early as 1900, it was not until 1914, when President Wilson signed a bill authorizing a government-built Alaska Railroad that this dream inched toward reality.

In 1917, the coal fields branch was completed.  The other portion of this railroad was not completed until 1923.

This railroad had financial difficulty.  While there was sufficient business carrying supplies and mining equipment on north-bound trips, there was little cargo to be carried on south-bound return trips.

The Railroad tried to promote tourism and encourage a reindeer industry to generate south-bound revenue.  Shortly before World War II, the Alaska Railroad began making a profit for the first time.

During World War II, the railroad was used heavily to transport military supplies to interior Alaska.  However, the railroad was not adequately maintained, and by the end of the war it was in need of major repairs.

It continued to operate during the next several decades, largely as a result of the military construction boom of the 1950’s and the pipeline construction boom of the 1970’s.

In 1984, the State of Alaska bought the railroad in an effort to assure that it would continue to operate.  It is now operated as an independent state agency called the Alaska Railroad Corporation.

Today the railroad operates mainly as a tourist attraction year round.

Copper River and Northwestern Railway
Copper River and Northwestern Railway

The Copper River and Northwestern Railway ran from Cordova to the Kennecott Copper Mines in the Wrangell Mountains.  It was built specifically to meet the needs of the Kennecott Copper Mines.

Interest in completing this railroad began in 1899 when copper claims were staked in the Copper River Basin.

In 1911, the railroad began operating after twelve years of discussion about the exact route of the railroad and changes in financial backing.

The railroad was entirely financed by the Kennecott Copper Corporation, which was originally called the Alaska Syndicate.  This company was made up of wealthy and influential families from the East Coast.

John Heney, the same man that oversaw the building of the White Pass and Yukon Railway was hired to be in charge of the building of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway.

During its years of operation, the railroad carried shipments from the mine to Cordova once or twice a week.  On its way up to the mine, the railroad carried business men, tourists, miners and mining supplies.

In 1938, the Kennecott Mines closed and the Copper River and Northwestern Railway stopped operating.

In 1941, the Kennecott Corporation donated the bridges and land around the tracks to the United States government.

During World War II, thirteen miles of the rail line were used between Cordova and the Cordova airport.  Prior to 1947, sixty miles of the line between Chitna and McCarthy were used for light tram traffic.

Today the road from Chitna to McCarthy sits on the old railway roadbed.

Concluding Thoughts
I enjoyed the information in this module, although I did not find it quite as interesting as the past two modules.  I find it interesting that many of the issues that we face today related to communication and transportation in Alaska are the same issues that the Alaska Natives and early European settlers faced for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years (hazardous travel conditions, high cost of transportation).

In a way, I am glad that these issues exist, because if they did not, then Alaska would become much more populated and developed.  However, because of the difficulties related to communication and transportation I think that Alaska will never become overly developed and populated.

This is exactly the kind of place where I am content to live.  I am happy to trade high costs of living and increased travel hazards for beautiful scenery, lots of space, smaller population and less overall development.

Three Blog Reviews

Crystal gives a good explanation of the conflict that exists between the tourism industry and other Alaskan industries such as mining and logging.

Whitney gives a great summary of reindeer herding in Alaska.  I really enjoyed reading the link that she provided in this section

Kristi has a great section that explains why the United States bought Alaska from Russia.  I also really liked her picture of a fishing wheel in the water by Haines.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Module V-American Period: Alaska's Economy

V- American Period: Alaska's Economy
What have been the major components of the Alaska economy during the American period of 1867-present?

"What Drives the Alaska Economy?"
Scott Goldsmith, UA Research Summary No.3
UAA ISER  Dec. 20
Since the American purchase in 1867, Alaska has had a diverse mix of economic activity.  Today, there is an almost equal three way split of Alaska’s economy between the Federal Government, the petroleum industry and all other industries. 

Federal Government Spending
Federal government spending is high in Alaska for three main reasons.   The first reason is that the Federal Government owns 59% of Alaskan Land.  In order to properly care for and manage this land, the federal government must operate many programs and employ many people.

Alaskan Highway Workers

The second reason is that  Alaska has a strong military presence.   This  presence dates back to World War II when hundreds of thousands of troops were sent to Alaska.  These troops build many of the roads, military bases and airfields that are still being used and operated today.

Former Senator Ted Stevens

 The third reason is that former Senator Ted Stevens used his position of power as a senior member of the senate to strongly advocate for Federal Spending in Alaska.

Prudhoe Bay Sunrise
Petroleum Industry
The first commercial oil development in Alaska began in 1902 in Katall, a now abandoned town located 76  miles southeast of Cordova.  In the several decades that followed, oil exploration and small scale oil development occurred in many different parts of Alaska. 

The major Prudhoe Bay Oil Field was first discovered in 1968, but could not be developed until a cost effective method of transporting the oil could be engineered.  Construction of the famous Alaska Pipeline began in 1974 and oil began flowing through it in 1977.  Although the amount of oil produced in Prudhoe Bay has decreased in recent years, it continues to provide major economic benefit to the Alaskan economy.
Other Important Industries

Gold Miner
Many other industries have contributed to Alaska’s Economy since it was first purchased by the United States.  Fishing and mining are two of the most important.

 Alaska’s first major Gold Strike occurred in 1880 near present day Juneau.  This strike was the beginning of an era of prospectors rushing to Alaska to try and find gold and earn their fortunes.  Other early gold strikes important to Alaska were located near present day Fairbanks and Nome and in the Canadian Klondike.  Today Gold continues to be discovered and mined in various locations throughout Alaska.

Kennecott Mine
In addition to gold, copper has been an important mineral in Alaska’s economy.  The famous Kennecott Copper Mine operated from 1911-1938.  At the time of its discovery, Kennecott was one of the richest deposits of ore ever discovered.  Today Copper Continues to be mined at the Red Dog mine near Kotzebue.

Fishing in Alaska
Fishing is also an important part of Alaska's economy.  Salmon has been the dominant species in Alaska’s commercial fishing industry.  However, crab, shrimp, cod, halibut and herring also  contribute to Alaska’s economy.

Other components of Alaska’s economy have included fur hunting and trapping, logging, farming, herding and tourism.

What is the current status of mineral development in Alaska?

Fort Knox Gold Mine
Today, many large and small mines operate in Alaska.  The price of gold has risen substantially in recent years, prompting increased interest in further gold exploration and mining.  Fort Knox, located near Fairbanks, Pogo, located near Delta Junction and Nixon Fork located near McGrath are three of the the gold mines currently operating in the state. 

In addition to gold mines, the Usibelli Coal Mine near Healy and the Red Dog Copper Mine near Kotzebue are currently in operation.

Pebble Mine Site
Exploration and development of potential sites for future mines is happening in many places throughout the state.  Some of these explorations and developments are highly controversial. 

 The proposed Pebble Mine is the center of major controversy right now due to its location near Bristol Bay, one of the world's largest and most well known wild salmon fishing locations.  While many Alaskan residents are highly supportive of the proposed mine because of its potential to boost the area's economy, many Alaskan residents are fiercely opposed to it because of the potential threat it poses to the salmon industry.  Links to two different websites, one in favor of Pebble Mine and one against it are listed below.

Large Gold Nugget

Right now the economic contribution of mining is small in relation to Federal spending and petroleum.  However, mining may play a bigger economic role in the future if petroleum production continues to decline, federal government spending decreases and the price of precious metals, particularly gold, continues to rise.

 Concluding Thoughts

Once again, I found this module very insightful.  I did not realize that federal spending made up such a large part of Alaska's Economy.  I find this aspect of the Alaska economy very ironic, because it seems to contradict the very conservative, "less government is better" mindset that I have noticed to be very prevalent among Alaskans.  In reality, the large government influence is the reason why many of us are able to live comfortably here in Alaska.

The mining aspect of the module was also interesting to me.  This is partly because my husband, a geology student, is interviewing for a possible job at Fort Knox Mine tomorrow.  This interview has caused me to think a lot about the impacts and ethics of mining, particularly the Pebble Mine controversy.  On one hand, I see the devastating impacts that such a mine could have on the environment, in this case, especially the salmon industry.  However, on the other hand, in the future, it is quite possible that my husband will be employed by a mine, and our ability to buy food, pay our mortgage and all other necessary bills will be directly linked to the mining industry.  It is also true that in our modern, western, materialistic society, we are highly dependent  on an abundance of minerals everyday.  Even if Pebble Mine does not get developed, another mine like it will be developed somewhere in the world.

I would greatly appreciate some guidance on the appropriate way to cite sources in an internet creation, such as this blog.  Particularly, is it appropriate to to find images by going to "Google Images" and then putting a link to the page that the picture originated from?  If not, what is the correct way to gather and cite pictures on the internet.  Also, throughout the blog, do I need to cite sources that I have read, such as the Alaska History Course, and give a formal reference section at the end of the post?  I have noticed that some people are doing this and some people are not.  My only experience with citing and referencing is with traditional research papers using APA style, so guidance in the area would be greatly appreciated.

Three Blog Reviews

Niki's blog is very well organized and easy to read.  She gives an excellent overview of the legacy left behind from Russian America. 

Betty's blog has a really nice picture of a church in Sitka.  She gives a thorough explanation of why the Russians were interested in Alaska.

I liked the sometimes humorous tone of Lane's blog.  I enjoyed reading the section about the Spanish exploration of Alaska.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I V-Russian America

Module IV-Russian America 

What was the nature of cultural contact between the Europeans of Russian America and the Natives of Alaska?

Aleut Hunters in Kayaks

The nature of cultural contact between the Europeans of Russian America and the Natives of Alaska varied greatly throughout the different regions of Alaska.  The Aleut and Koniag were the two Native groups that received the most cultural impact.  While some positive interactions did take place between the two groups during the early part of Russian America, many were very hostile, with the Russians exploiting and using the Natives to further the progress of the Company.

When the Russian fur traders arrived in Alaska, they thoroughly defeated and often enslaved the Aleuts and Koniags by meeting them in battles, taking hostages and seizing their boats.   The Russians then used the natives to hunt their desired furs and to complete daily living tasks for the company such as hunting and gathering food and sewing.  In many instances the Russians also organized the Natives into large communities to better control them.

During this early time of hostility the Russians began to introduce education and religious instruction to the Natives.  While Russian Orthodox missionaries did not arrive in Alaska until 1794, many of the fur traders began teaching Christianity and baptizing natives prior to that time.  In 1784, Gregorii and Natal’ia Shelikhov opened the first formal school to teach Russian and religion to the Native children of Kodiak that they were holding hostage.   

During this early time of contact, both the Russians and the Natives assimilated or adopted many aspects of each others diets, clothing, housing and tools.   The Natives usually continued to eat their traditional diet, live in their traditional housing styles and wear their traditional dress with a few items of European clothing mingled with it.  The Russians often ate many of the Native foods, and adopted the traditional housing styles and clothing of the local Natives.  Through trade with the Russians, the Natives obtained and quickly  began using many new tools and weapons such as knives, axes, saws, metal cooking pots, crockery. 

In addition to changes among the Russians and the Natives, an entirely new Creole culture began during the Russian America period.  While in Alaska, many of the Russian men married and had children with Native women.  The children of these unions were called Creoles.  The Creoles were considered Russian citizens, however, they were excused from serving in the military and paying taxes.  They could choose to work for the Russian Company or to live as natives.   The Russians opened several Creole technical schools to train them to work in different jobs for the company.

 How did the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska change both the Colony and the indigenous population.

Kodiak Russian Orthodox Church

 In general, the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska helped to improve the moral conduct of the Russian colonists and the treatment and status of the indigenous people.  When the first Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived in Alaska in 1794, they strongly objected to the moral conduct of the fur traders and their abuse of the Natives.  The missionaries first complained to the company officials, and when little or no improvements were made, they then complained to the officials in Russia.  In 1796 one monk named Makary was so disturbed by the situation that he personally went to Saint Petersburg to complain. 

The moral conduct of the company and the treatment of the indigenous population greatly improved after Governor and Company Manager Aleksandr Baranov left Alaska in 1818. After his departure, the fur traders began providing more support to the missionaries.  The treatment of the indigenous population further improved in the 1820’s after the second Charter of the Russian American Company required an increased amount of priests and church personnel to be present in the colony.  As a result of this requirement, many new missionaries arrived in Alaska in the 1820’s.  One of their first tasks was to train the Natives to be priests and to perform lay positions in the church.  They also helped create alphabets and written languages among the natives, translated religious texts, established and taught at schools and ministered to the sick.

One of the most influential missionaries in Alaska was Father Ioann Veniaminov, later named St. Innocent,  who arrive in Alaska in 1824.  During his time in Alaska, he lived in Unalaska, Sitka and Yakutusk.  Some of his achievements included writing ethnographic and scientific studies of Alaska, teaching at a school, assisting in the development of an alphabet for the Fox Islands Aleuts, and translating some liturgical texts into the Aleut language.  He also instructed the Natives in skills such as carpentry and bricklaying.  In the 1830’s when a smallpox epidemic arose throughout the colony, he helped to vaccinate many people. 

Another very prominent and successful Russian Orthodox missionary in Alaska was Netsvetov, who was the son of the Atka Island manager for the Russian-American Company and his Aleut wife.  He went to seminary and then returned to Atka to work.  During his time in Atka he improved the school, studied the Aleut language and culture and revised the Fox Island Alphabet  that Veniaminov and the Aleut Chief Ivan Pankov had developed earlier.  In 1845 he moved to the Yukon-Kuskokwim church mission where he worked until 1862.

In conclusion, the establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska caused the Russian colonists to be held accountable for their treatment of the natives.  As a result of this higher degree of accountability, the position of the indigenous people was raised  from one of essentially being slaves to the Russian fur traders, to that of citizens who were able to attend school, read and write in their traditional languages, be trained and work in various vocations, and hold positions in the church.

Three Blog Reviews:
Joel's Blog:  Joel teaches mainly math and science at a small k-12 school on the Glenn Highway.  He has some interesting discussion about how a culture is defined.  He also gives neat examples from experiences that he had in Toksook Bay.

Educational Exploration in AK: Kristen teaches 9th and 10th grade English at Eagle River High School in Eagle River.  She has very insightful comments about culture.  She also gives wonderful examples of cultural adoption, assimilation and resistance.

Dancing Light: One Path to Learning:  Joan currently works as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Kuspuk School District.  She has an interesting discussion about what it means to be Alaskan.

Concluding Thoughts
I found the study of Russian America to be fascinating.  This is partly due to the fact that I lived on Kodiak Island for five years when I was growing up.  Although I knew that the Russians first established Kodiak (after the Natives) and I knew a little about the Russian Orthodox Church, I knew very little of the Russian history until reading this module.  Reading this module brought back many memories of my time spent in Kodiak, and helped me to better understand some of the experiences that I had while living there. I remember driving down Rezanov Drive (one of the major roads in Kodiak), visiting the Baranov Museum and going out to eat at the Shelikhov Inn.  In fifth grade I remember going with my class on an overnight trip to a camp on Woody Island that used to be one of the Russian Schools.  I also remember playing my flute and oboe with the Kodiak Russian balalaika players.  This unit has also caused me to realize that as educators, we need to do a better job of teaching our students the history of the place that they live in.

I do have one suggestion for this course.  It would be nice to have a list and links to all the suggested readings for each module at the beginning of each module.