Conference

Conflicting Visions in Alaska History
Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
October 6-8 and 13-15, 2022

Alaskans burn President Jimmy Carter in effigy during the Alaska lands battle, circa 1978. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Collection. Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Alaska Historical Society will be hosting their 2022 annual conference on October 6-8 and 13-15, 2022, in collaboration with the Cook Inlet Historical Society. An in-person reception and keynote presentation by environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth (“History from a Dogsled: The Yukon and the Stakes of Telling the Past”) will occur at the Anchorage Museum on October 6 at 7pm and will be live streamed. The rest of the conference presentations and panel discussions will be virtual through the Crowdcast streaming application. Some in-person tours may also be available in Anchorage.

Conference Theme: Conflicting Visions in Alaska History

Alaska history provides numerous examples of conflicting visions. Russian colonizers coerced Native labor to pursue sea otters for a profitable commercial trade, disrupting the Native subsistence economy and decimating populations. Following the U.S. purchase of Alaska, conflicts arose as fortune-seekers reaped profits from this resource-rich territory, often with disastrous consequences to the indigenous people already occupying Alaska. The discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay and the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act set the stage for legal battles over land and resource use.

Other conflicting visions in our history revolved around education. For example, the practice of removing Alaska Native children from their communities and taking them to boarding schools, intended to educate and “civilize” them, harshly curtailed the transmission of Native language and culture. The conference will include a panel on Alaskan boarding schools, featuring former students at Mount Edgecumbe and other schools.

The conference also highlights the importance of recent history. Panels are planned on the rollout of ANCSA and preparations for the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, both of which occurred within the last 50 years. We plan to offer mini- workshops in methods of studying, archiving, interpreting and teaching recent history.

Stay tuned for more conference information as it becomes available, including a full program schedule. Conference registration is $50 and opens August 1.

For more information about Bathsheba Demuth and her presentation, see the Alaska Historical Society’s July 7, 2022 News Release: “National Author, Environmental Historian to Open Fall History Conference.”

For more information or questions, contact: Rachel Mason, Program Chair, rachel_mason@nps.gov

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2021 AHS DIGITAL CONFERENCE
October 7-9 and 14-16, 2021
“Communities Remembered and Imagined”

2021 Presentations

Kennecott Mine in 2010. Photo by Neal Herbert, courtesy National Park Service.

“Communities Remembered and Imagined” was the theme of the 2021 Alaska Historical Society Conference. The focus was on the life cycles of communities, particularly on those phases that exist only in memory or imagination. On Thursday, October 14, we also had three sessions honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which was signed into law on December 18, 1971.

Due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic, our 2021 conference was held digitally via Zoom. To avoid Zoom fatigue, the conference was stretched out over two weeks: Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 7-9 and 14-16, with a 1-1/2 hour morning session and one or two 1-1/2 hour afternoon sessions on each day. For those of you who missed a session or want to hear a paper again, you can now access recordings of the presentations.

2021 Conference Program             Abstracts and Presenter Biographies
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2020 AHS DIGITAL CONFERENCE
October 8-10 and 15-17, 2020
“Place and Power”

2020 Presentations

Sitka from water, showing the Three Sisters in the background. Sitka Harbor-7, Alaska State Library Photo Collection.

“Place and Power” was the theme for the 2020 Alaska Historical Society Conference. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we canceled the face-to-face event in Sitka and held the meeting digitally by Zoom. To avoid Zoom fatigue, the conference was stretched out from October 8-10 and 15-17, with 1-1/2 hours in the morning and 1-1/2 hours in the afternoon of each day. For those of you who missed a session or want to hear a paper again, you can now access recordings of the presentations.

When we were going to gather in Sitka, it provided a fitting location for exploring larger questions of power relations over time, such as how governmental laws and policies impact Alaskans and shape our understanding of history and identity.

Conference sessions included: women’s suffrage; the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA); the legacy of noted anthropologist and nature writer Richard Nelson; the 1918 flu epidemic; Sitka’s history; Russian America; history in the public square; and Alaska canneries.

2020 Conference Schedule             Abstracts and Presenter Biographies

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Fundraising Auction

During every conference, AHS holds a silent auction that is the organization’s primary fundraiser. Donations of items of historical relevance are encouraged. For donations, contact our Executive Director at Alaska Historical Society
 P.O. Box 100299
 Anchorage AK 99510-0299, (907) 276-1596, members@alaskahistoricalsociety.org

Conference Proceedings
From 1990 to 2013, Conference Proceedings were published and are available for purchase. To learn about conferences since 2015, view past schedules at the Conference Archives.

Enjoying a performance during banquet at the 2013 annual conference in Haines, Alaska. Photo by Anjuli Grantham.

Enjoying a performance during banquet at the 2013 annual conference in Haines, Alaska. Photo by Anjuli Grantham.

Enjoying the 2016 Awards Banquet at the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska.

Enjoying the 2016 Awards Banquet at the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska. Photo by Chris Allan.