History of slavery in Alaska

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The history of slavery in Alaska is different from that of the other states that comprise the United States of America. Whereas the continental United States mostly saw enslavement of Africans brought across the Atlantic Ocean, in Alaska indigenous people, and some whites, enslaved indigenous people from other tribes.

The Haida and Tlingit tribes held slaves.[1][2]

In Russian Alaska, the Promyshlenniki forced Aleut and Alutiiq men to hunt sea otters as part of the Maritime fur trade, taking their women and children hostage.[3]

Slavery was abolished in all states under the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which took effect on December 18, 1865. When Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867, slavery became illegal in Alaska.

In 1903 there were still documented cases of slavery in the territory. Aleutian girls could be purchased by wealthy families to do the housework, and were often not allowed to participate in child play or become educated. These girls tended to come from the Atta Islands.[4]

From 1911 until the passage of the Fur Seal Act in 1966, the inhabitants of the Pribilof Islands were governed directly by employees of the United States federal government, under conditions which the Tundra Times described in 1964 as slavery "in milder form perhaps than existed in the Deep South, but slavery nonetheless"; these conditions included being paid for their labor in food rather than in money (until 1950), being forcibly resettled, being denied suffrage, being denied freedom of assembly, and being denied freedom of movement.[5]

Native Americans were granted full rights of citizenship in 1924 with the passage of the Indian Citizenship Act.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donald, Leland. Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America. University of California Press. 1997
  2. ^ Ruby, Robert H. Indian Slavery in the Pacific Northwest. Arthur H. Clark. 1993
  3. ^ Gwenn A. Miller (2005). "Russian Routes". Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  4. ^ Girl Slaves in Alaska; Principal of Territorial Schools Tells of Traffic. New York Times December 19, 1903
  5. ^ SLAVES of the fur seal HARVEST, from the Cascadia Times; published Winter 2005; page 18-19