The 150th anniversary of the Alaska Treaty of Cession is 2017. On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian Envoy Edouard de Stoeckl signed the treaty in Washington, D.C. Less than seven months later, on October 18, the ceremonial transfer took place at Sitka and the U.S. replaced the Russian administrators.
To commemorate the significant event, the Alaska Historical Society is coordinating a Statewide Calendar of Events, promoting discussions by posting a series of articles and images and documents on our website.
The public is invited to submit material to our Statewide Calender of Events by using our on-line Event Submission Form. Please direct questions and concerns to Anna Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call For Papers
Exploring the Legacy of the Alaska Purchase
Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
September 27-30, 2017 in Anchorage, Alaska
Once Alaska was known to the world as Russian America. All of that ended 150 years ago when William H. Seward and Edward de Stoeckl signed the treaty that ceded those Russian possessions to the United States. Since then Alaska has evolved from a military district, to a territory, and finally into the forty-ninth state of the United States. This year the Anchorage Museum is hosting the joint Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska annual conference. The 2017 theme—Exploring the Legacy of the Alaska Purchase—invites reflections on how that moment charted a new destiny for Alaska. In particular the theme opens the door for indigenous perspectives on the meaning of this pivotal event. Please join us as we examine how Alaska’s history unfolded, is unfolding and may yet unfold since that day in 1867 when Czar Alexander II abandoned North America. Presentations on Alaska history topics are welcome.
Our featured speaker will be Professor Willie Hensley, author of Fifty Miles from Nowhere and an Alaskan who shaped the state we live in today.
YOU ARE INVITED TO SUBMIT PROPOSALS FOR PAPERS, PANELS, AND POSTER SESSIONS. PAPER PRESENTATIONS ARE LIMITED TO 20 MINUTES. PRESENTERS MUST BE REGISTERED FOR THE CONFERENCE.
PROPOSALS ARE DUE MAY 1, 2017 AND SHOULD BE SENT TO TIM TROLL, PROGRAM CHAIR, TROLL@GCI.NET.
In 2017, Tundra Vision is once again hosting “Thursday Nights in Mountain View” a participatory history series that takes place on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Mountain View Branch Library in Anchorage, Alaska. The theme of this year’s lectures is Alaska and the Law. Each night features a different speaker, and invites history enthusiasts to muse upon how Alaskans used our commonalities as well as our differences to build a system of justice on the Last Frontier.
Time: Public Engagement Session with Refreshments: 6:00pm
Speaker Presentation: 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Place: Mountain View Branch Library, 120 Bragaw Street, Anchorage
January 26: Terrence Cole, Professor of History, UAF
The Judge: Tales, Trails, and Trials, Establishing Alaska’s Early Court System
February 23: Anchorage Youth Court
Justice for Youth by Youth
March 30: William Iggiagruk Hensley, Professor of Business and Public Policy, UAA
Sesquicentennial Perspectives: Two Historical Views of the Alaska Purchase
April 27: Mara Kimmel, Attorney and Co-Founded the Alaska Institute for Justice
Newcomers in Alaska: Understanding Immigration Law and Policy
May 25: Justice Dana Fabe, Retired Alaska Supreme Court Justice
A Conversation with Alaska’s First Female Supreme Court Justice
For more information visit: https://www.facebook. com/Tundra-Vision-Public-History-Consultants-
Honoring Our Past, Celebrating Our Present, Igniting Our Future
Wasilla Centennial Kick Off Celebration
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Menard Center at 1001 S. Clapp Street in Wasilla
11:00 am to 2:00 pm: Family Free Skate
12:00 pm: Centennial Bake Off Competition
7:00 to 10:00 pm: Centennial Ball and City Families Presentation; Music and Food
Please join the Dorothy G. Page Museum at 323 N. Main Street, Wasilla in celebrating the City of Wasilla’s one hundred year anniversary. Enjoy various events throughout the day. Don’t miss an evening of memories, good food, good music, good company and good times. Come honor those in our community who have seen Wasilla throughout the years.
For more information: www.cityofwasilla.com/centennial
By: Kathi Riemer
The shores of Mitkof Island were pretty quiet for millennia. Mitkof Island was a great little spot for summer visitors, people interested in catching life sustaining fish, but the island never caught on as a place to set down roots. In 1898 that changed.
Petersburg, Alaska is a small town on the northern tip of Mitkof Island. All indications lead us to believe that the town of Petersburg was the first permanent settlement ever constructed on the island. There are many fish trap sites filled with artifacts and middens, some dating back 2000 years or more, but there is no evidence of a permanent village site. You might ask why anyone would settle a place that had been discarded as a habitable location for centuries. The answer is fish. People have utilized the fishing resource Mitkof Island provides for millennia. Nobody is quite sure why it was never settled by the Native people in the region, but theories abound. Some think it is because of the weather patterns, others think it may have been a buffer zone between Native groups. For whatever reason, the island that was least inhabitable to Southeast Alaska Native people, seemed to be the ideal location for Norwegian fishermen and their families.
Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian entrepreneur from Aure, Norway was in the business of setting up fish canneries and salteries along the shores of Alaska’s inside passage. Petersburg is located between Sumner Straight to the south and Fredrick Sound to the north with the Wrangell Narrows sliding along it’s western shore. Peter Buschmann would have sailed by the island many times while managing his operations to the north and south. He would have had to notice the large icebergs from LeConte Glacier floating in Fredrick Sound and thought it would be a good idea to expand his holdings with a cannery site on Mitkof Island.
In 1899 the Icy Straight Packing Company was built on the northern shore of Mitkof Island with money from people who had invested in his other operations. Peter Buschmann needed a workforce so he sent word to Norway and friends and relatives showed up to work. He also brought Chinese people to Petersburg to work in the cannery. Later, Native people from Kake joined the workforce. Salmon was plentiful in the area, as was halibut. The ice from LeConte Glacier kept the halibut cold all the way to Seattle. Salmon was canned and salted and sent south too.
Norwegian settlers continued to make their home in Petersburg, which became an incorporated city in 1910, two years after the initial articles of incorporation were rejected because women had signed them. By 1910, the Icy Straits Cannery had been purchased by the Pacific Packing and Navigation Company in 1901 and the Pacific Coast and Norway Packing Company in 1906.
In 1918, after going through bankruptcy proceedings, the Norway Packing Company reorganized as the Petersburg Packing Company, with Oscar Nicholson as superintendent. He operated the cannery until 1933 when it was sold to Pacific American Fisheries. In 1965, Bob Thorstenson organized a group of Petersburg residents and fishermen to purchase the cannery from PAF. The Petersburg stockholders named their cannery Petersburg Fisheries Incorporated, PFI. The company expanded and became Icicle Seafoods, one of the largest fish packing plants in Alaska. In 2010 Petersburg stockholders sold their Icicle shares to Paine and Partners, an equity firm and in 2016, the plant was purchased by Cooke Aquaculture, a Canadian fish company.
The Clausen Memorial Museum has many images of canneries taken from 1998 through the present day. We have spent the last year locating these images, entering them into our Past Perfect data base and storing them appropriately. The Icy Straits Cannery, which is now Icicle Seafoods, has been the lifeblood of our town and the images bring Petersburg’s history to life. We also have images of the many other canneries that have and continue to operate on Mitkof Island. Individuals and organizations are now able to obtain historical cannery images from our museum.
University of Alaska Press announces the release of
Sewards’ Folly: A New Look at the Alaska Purchase
By Lee A. Farrow
Available December 2016
Paper Price: $25.95
About the Book:
The Alaska Purchase—denounced at the time as “Seward’s Folly” but now seen as a masterstroke—is well known as a key moment in American history. But few know the whole story.
This book aims to correct that. Lee A. Farrow offers here a detailed account of just what the Alaska Purchase was, how it came about, its impact at the time, and more. Farrow shows why both America and Russia had plenty of good reasons to want the sale to occur, including Russia’s desire to let go of an unprofitable, hard-to-manage colony and the belief in the United States that securing Alaska could help the nation facilitate control of the continent and, many believed, eventually lead to the absorption of British Columbia. Farrow also delves into the implications of the deal for foreign policy and international diplomacy far beyond Russia and the United States at a moment when the global balance of power was in question.
A thorough, readable retelling of a story we only think we know, Seward’s Folly will become the standard book on the Alaska Purchase.
Lee A. Farrow is distinguished teaching professor in the Department of History at Auburn University at Montgomery and director of Auburn’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.