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An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past by Stephen Haycox, Mary Mangusso

By Stephen Haycox, Mary Mangusso

Alaska, with its Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut background, its century of Russian colonization, its peoples’ ambitious struggles to wrest a dwelling (or a fortune) from the North’s remoted and cruel atmosphere, and its fairly fresh success of statehood, has lengthy captured the preferred mind's eye. In An Alaska Anthology, twenty-five modern students discover the region’s pivotal occasions, major issues, and significant avid gamers, local, Russian, Canadian, and American. The essays selected for this anthology signify the superior writing on Alaska, giving nice intensity to our knowing and appreciation of its background from the times of Russian-American corporation domination to the more moderen danger of nuclear checking out by means of the Atomic strength fee and the effect of oil funds on green politicians. Readers might be accustomed to an previous anthology, Interpreting Alaska’s History, from which the current quantity advanced to deal with an explosion of study some time past decade. whereas the various unique items have been came across to be irreplaceable, greater than half the essays are new. the result's a clean standpoint at the topic and a useful source for college students, academics, and students.

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Following the return of the survivors of Bering's wrecked ship, in 1743 began the rush of fur traders to the Eastern (Aleutian) Islands. This task was carried out by private individuals, entrepreneurs who invested their own capital, built their own boats, and hired their own crews with only modest aid from local government officials. Their objective, however, was finding not America, but two sea mammals, the sea otter (or sea beaver, as the Russians called it) and the fur seal. The survivors of Bering's crew, upon returning to Kamchatka after the winter on Bering Island, brought with them some nine hundred pelts of the sea otter, fur seal, and blue Arctic fox, killed for food and body covering.

In fact, their expertise with kayaks and harpoons was such that under Russian pressure it contributed to the rapid diminution of the sea otter population.? It was also such that the Russian promyshlenniki became totally dependent upon the Aleuts, not even bothering to learn how to hunt "sea beavers" themselves. Martin Sauer, secretary to the Billings expedition (1785-94), observed on Kodiak Island in 1790 that foxes and ground squirrels were the only animals that the Russians were capable of killing.

Nevertheless, eighty years before Bering's voyage, Semen Dezhnev, an illiterate cossack, and his party of Russian fur hunters demonstrated the separation of Asia and America by sailing around the northeastern corner of Siberia. They were the first Europeans to do so. Two years after Bering's first voyage and nine years before his second, another expedition, sailing in his vessel, did find a bit of America, Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost tip of the American mainland. This voyage, though authorized by the Governing Senate and with some personnel assigned by the Admiralty College in St.

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