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History of Alaska - Part 1

History of Alaska - Part 1

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Published by James Bradley
Alaska's Invasion by Europeans
Alaska's Invasion by Europeans

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Published by: James Bradley on Apr 12, 2011
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11/06/2012

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A Brief History of Alaska
James L Bradley - Kanook Tlingit Nation, Raven Moiety, Dog Salmon ClanPart OneThe Russians
The European history of Alaska begins with the myth of Atlantis in theAtlantic, and the myth of “Gama” land in the Pacific, a myth that was supportedin the reality of some by the remnants of some South Sea Islands and by thefact that at the close of 18
th
century little was known about the North Pacific. SirFrancis Drake
1
, having reached a undisclosed point north of San Francisco andthe Russians going eastward from Siberia reaching the Sea of Okhotsk, causedtales and rumors about Gama land and the fabled
Straits of Anian
(known to theEnglish as the
Northwest Passage
), supported in fact by information from thevoyage of Juan de Fuca..Native tradition in Southeast Alaska sometimes relates to these stories andtales as the origination of the people as a significant part of their history. Thereis an “old” story that relates the coming of strange people from the westernocean, which had among them two sisters. They are said to have landed onDall Island where the sisters met and married men whose people had migrateddown the rivers from the interior of North America. One sister went with hernew family to the Queen Charlotte Islands, her children said to have multipliedbecoming the Haida Nation. The other sister and her family settled on Prince of Wales Island, where she became the ancestor (or) ancestress Mother of theTlingit Nation
.Regardless of myth or “no” myth, in the days of Peterthe Great
4
this land was believed to have existed among agreat many sailors of Northern Europe. It is generallybelieved that this “mythical land” was often discussedamong the sailors and as time went on the desire todiscover this new land grew far beyond just common
1
June 17
th
, 1579
2
It is thought that the Tlingit have inhabited for over 11,000 years, artifacts in Angoon have been found that have carbondated back 9,300 years
3
from Vancouver Island north to Cross Sound Tlingits were known as the “fiercest” and “bloodiest” of all thenative peoples on the west coast of America
4
 
A Brief History of Alaska – Page 1
 
“boarding house” talk, and eventually made its way to the ears of Peter theGreat. Peter at the time was working (under one of his many disguises) as acommon labor on the docks in Europe and having participated in thesediscussions from time –to- time generated a great interest in the “Gama Land”.It was during this time that Peter made the acquaintance of many Danish sailors, one being Vitus Jonassen Bering (IvanIvanovich] who later was to join the Russian Navy in 1703.Peter understood the value of finding this “Gama-Land”,knowing that Siberia was always laboring under a great manydifficulties in providing for its population, and calculated that if he was to find this mythical land he would be able to supply food and othermaterials that were needed desperately in Siberia.
 
He also realized that thisdiscovery would enhance the dominion of Russia making it possible for hiscountry to be as great on the sea, as it was on land.Many years were to pass before Peter’s grand plan was to bear fruit and itwasn’t until 1724 that he endorsed an order
5
to explore east of Siberia but, as amatter of record it wasn’t till after Peter the Greats death on January 28
th
, 1725that Vitus Bering was to begin his quest for Gama Land under the order of Peter’s successor Catherine the First
6
 
7
. Vitus chose for his assistants, AlexeiChirikov, a navy lieutenant and Martin Petrovich Spanberg also a lieutenant inthe Russian Navy.Vitus under rule of the government
8
journeyed overland to Okhotsk
9
, crossedto Kamchatka were he build the ship
Sviatoi Gavriil
(St Gabriel). On this ship onJuly 13
th
, 1728 he sailed from Kamchatka River northeast (usually in sight of land). On August 11
th
he sighted land to the east and named it St Lawrence
5
Characteristically, when handing over the directions to Admiral Pyotr Apraksin for Bering, Peter I was quoted as saying:"Once we have protected our Fatherland from enemies, we should bring it glory through the arts and sciences. In our searchfor such a route, we will be more successful than the Dutch and the English, who have already made numerous attempts toreach the American coast."
6
 
Catherine I
(InRussian:Екатерина I Алексеевна) (April 15
 
, 1684– May 17
 
, 1727), the second wife of Peter the Great, reigned as Empress of  Russia from 1725 until her death. She also functioned as co-ruler with her husband from1724until his death early in the next year 
7
In
1727
, the Admiralty decided to send another exploration expedition to be commanded by navigator Ivan Fyodorov andland surveyor Mikhail Gvozdev, who in August of 1732 crossed the Bering Strait, discovered the Diomede Islands andapproached Alaska in the vicinity of Prince of Wales Cape. The expedition reported that what they had discovered was "notan island but a far greater portion of land... a landmass."
8
 
Peter II
 (Russian: Пётр II Алексеевич or 
Pyotr II Alekseyevich
 
) was Emperor of  Russia from 1727 until his death. He was the only son of  Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich
 
9
First Russian settlement in the Russian Far East, located at the mouth of the Okhotsk River on the Sea of Okhotsk, it wasestablished in 1647, who had for a governor at the beginning of Vitus trips Anton de Vieira, a Portuguese Jew
A Brief History of Alaska – Page 2
 
Island (after a brief exploration), going onto the northeast he passed throughthe strait (later named for him) past the Diomede islands (previouslydocumented by Semyon Ivanovice Dezhnev in 1648), and up into the ArcticOcean. Upon reaching North 67 degrees and 18 minutes, he decided that hehad passed the extreme eastern point of the Asia coast; turning back hefollowed the Siberian coast reaching the mouth of the Kamchatka River onSeptember 2
nd
1728 completing his first voyage of the Pacific in fifty-one days.The following year (spring-1729) he a made a fruitless trip eastward from themainland, having traveled eastward for 100 miles and finding nothing hereturned to Okhotsk from where he begin his overland trip to St Petersburg.Bering and his family returned to St Petersburg reaching the capital on March31
st
, 1730 after a total absence of five-years. Unfortunately during the long tripacross Siberia Bering became very ill and almost perished, five of his childrendid not survive the trip. On his return to St Petersburg he received acommission to commence with a further expedition to the east, and on hisreturn to Okhotsk in 1735 had local craftsman “Makar Rogachev and AndreyKozmin” build him two vessels, the
Sviatoi Piotr 
(St Peter) and
Sviatoi Pavel
(StPaul).While he was absent on his first voyage, Afanasius Shestakov (a Cossackofficer of eastern Siberia) presented to the government a plan for thesubjugation of the “Chukchee people”
. He was given permission to make the“attempt” with the Russian government giving him forces for the enslavementof the local population. On Shestakof’s return to Siberia, he equipped twoexpeditions, one by the land and one by sea. The one by land was led by him,Afanasium Shestakov and the one by sea by Captain Pavlutskyh, with a totaltroop strength of over 400 soldiers. In Okhotsk, Shestakov had two ships builtfor his campaign to sail up and engage the “Koryaks” in the Penshina andGizhiga River areas, to restore the Oklan fortress then join Captain Pavlutskyand go together fighting the “Chuckhis”. Shestakov’s ship destroyed somesettlements on the Nayahana and Ayakan Rivers, but when they met and foughtthe “Chuckhis” near the Egatche River in 1730 he along with 31 of him menwere killed and the remaining contingent disbanded. Shestakov’s other ship,the “
Vostochnyi Gavril
”, sailed to Kamchatka where it was wrecked in a storm.
10
The first to present a suitable version about the conquest of Siberia to the Empire was a German historian G.F.Müller, thehead of the scientific staff of Bering's second Kamchatka expedition.
A Brief History of Alaska – Page 3

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