Alaska was occupied by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The state is considered the entry point for the settlement of North America by way of the Bering land bridge. The Russians were the first Europeans to settle the area beginning in the 18th century, eventually establishing Russian America, which spanned most of the current state. The expense and difficulty of maintaining this distant possession prompted its sale to the U.S. in 1867 for US$7.2 million (equivalent to $133 million in 2020), or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
The indigenous population of Alaska is proportionally the highest of any U.S. state, at over 15 percent. Close to two dozen native languages are spoken, and Alaskan Natives exercise considerable influence in local and state politics. (Full article...)
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Joseph Jeffrey Hazelwood (born September 24, 1946) is an American sailor. He was the captain of Exxon Valdez during her 1989 oil spill. He was accused of being intoxicated which contributed to the disaster, but was cleared of this charge at his 1990 trial after witnesses testified that he was sober around the time of the accident. Hazelwood was convicted of a lesser charge, negligent discharge of oil (a misdemeanor), fined $50,000, and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service. (Full article...)
Traditional Alaskan Native religion involves mediation between people and spirits, souls, and other immortal beings. Such beliefs and practices were once widespread among Inuit (including Iñupiat), Yupik, Aleut, and Northwest Coastal Indian cultures, but today are less common. They were already in decline among many groups when the first major ethnological research was done. For example, at the end of the 19th century, Sagdloq, the last medicine man among what were then called in English, "Polar Eskimos", died; he was believed to be able to travel to the sky and under the sea, and was also known for using ventriloquism and sleight-of-hand.
The term "Eskimo" has fallen out of favour in Canada and Greenland, where it is considered pejorative and "Inuit" is used instead. However, "Eskimo" is still considered acceptable among some Alaska Natives of Yupik and Inupiaq (Inuit) heritage and is at times preferred over "Inuit" as a collective reference.
Image 6St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka. The original structure, built in 1848, burned down in a fire on January 2, 1966. The cathedral was rebuilt from plans of the original structure and contains artifacts rescued from the fire. (from History of Alaska)
Image 7Oil pooled on rocks on the shore of Prince William Sound after the oil spill. (from History of Alaska)
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