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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  • University of Oklahoma Press
Product Description:

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'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.

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.

Alaska: A Novel

By James A. Michener

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

Alaska: A Novel
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  • Dial Press
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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

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

By Howard Blum

Broadway Books
Released: 2012-03-27
Paperback (440 pages)

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

History of Alaska

By Hubert Howe Bancroft

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (408 pages)

History of Alaska
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By Shelley Gill

Brand: Charlesbridge
Released: 2007-02-01
Paperback (32 pages)

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Blending poetry and humor, Alaskan author and adventurer Shelley Gill explores the 49th state's history, culture, wildlife, and geography. Explosive volcanoes, extreme climates, massive mountains, shimmering Northern Lights, and dog-mushing races are just some of the sights captured in crisp photographs.

Alaska (CB-1) & Guam (CB-2) - U.S. Navy Battlecruisers in World War 2 - An Alternate History

By Byron Angel

Released: 2018-01-26
Kindle Edition (61 pages)

Alaska (CB-1) & Guam (CB-2) - U.S. Navy Battlecruisers in World War 2 - An Alternate History
Product Description:
The U.S. Navy started thinking about building battlecruisers in the early 1930s. For a variety of reasons, construction of the battlecruisers didn't start until after World War 2 had begun, and the Alaska and Guam only saw action late in the war. In this alternate history, construction of the battlecruisers starts four years earlier.

On the Edge of Nowhere

By James Huntington

Epicenter Press
Paperback (192 pages)

On the Edge of Nowhere
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His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Thus, Jimmy Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. Huntington is only seven when his mother dies, and he must care for his younger siblings. A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls too numerous to mention, and becomes a championship sled-dog racer.

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