AHS Blog

AHS Conference Abstracts

Date Posted: September 7, 2017       Categories: News

See below for Abstracts of the 2017 AHS Annual Conference presentations or click here for this list as a pdf document.



AHS Keynote Speaker: Willie Iggiagruk Hensley, An Indigenous Perspective on the Alaska Purchase

The Inupiaq scholar, politician, and lecturer Willie Iggiagruk Hensley will share his personal story and views on the legacy of the purchase of Russian America by the United States and its long-lasting influence on Alaska Native peoples. Mr. Hensley has recently written an article entitled “Why Russia Gave Up Alaska, America’s Gateway to the Arctic,” and he will explore what it meant for indigenous people to be caught in the grip of one nation’s colonial ambitions and then transferred to the sovereignty of another. Mr. Hensley was one of the Alaska Native leaders most responsible for securing the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. 

Thursday, 10:30-12:00

Russian America

Russian American Colonies in 1867: A Baseline

Though the Russian-American Company was ostensibly a trading firm, as an imperially chartered monopoly it had many governmental and social responsibilities in Russia’s North American colonies. In conjunction with its social responsibilities it provided transportation support for the colonies’ Russian Orthodox mission; collaborated with the Church in maintaining a school system; maintained a medical system; and contributed to the support of a small number of colonial pensioners. With departure of the Russian-American Company following the transfer of Alaska to U.S. ownership, these Company-supported institutions were significantly crippled or entirely swept away. It took time before they were restored or replaced under U.S. rule.

Katherine Arndt is scholar of Russian America and the Alaskana bibliographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.

Seward and the Tsar: Alaska and Emancipation

Using information drawn from his two books, The Man Who Sold Alaska and The Man Who Bought Alaska, Michael Dunham will examine the purchase of Russian America and the two major actors in the transaction—U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Tsar Alexander II of Russia.  The Tsar is remembered as “Alexander the Liberator” for freeing Russia’s serfs in 1861, and Seward played a major role in framing the Emancipation Proclamation and passing the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, slavery persisted in Alaska and did not fade away until the 1880s.

Michael Dunham lives in Anchorage and regularly wrote about Alaska history in his 50-year career as a broadcaster and newspaper reporter.

The Historical and Cultural Heritage of Russia in the North Pacific

This paper assesses how Russians viewed their territories in the North Pacific in the 18th and early 19th centuries and how they see their former territories today. Alaska was ceded 150 years ago, and many Russians are curious to know what has changed since that time. The author of the paper understands the history and heritage of Russian America as a potential means to lighten and further develop current Russian-American relations.

Alexander Petrov is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Frontier Trailblazers

Putting Pictures into Motion: “City of Gold” and the Creation of the Modern Historical Documentary

2017 is the 60th anniversary of one of the most influential historical documentaries of all time—City of Gold about the Klondike gold rush. The 22-minute film won first place at the 1957 Cannes Festival for short documentary and captivated audiences around the world. The documentary was built on a rich trove of historical photographs, and director Colin Lowe conceived the innovative trick of slowing panning in and out to recreate the key illusion of motion pictures: motion. When Ken Burns was a young film student in 1970, and he saw City of Gold for the first time, he realized this was a way to make the past come alive.

Terrence Cole is the author of numerous works on Alaska history and a Professor of History, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Kate Kennedy in the Klondike, Nome and McCarthy

This presentation will focus on the history of mining in Alaska using the incredible life of Kate Kennedy, a camp follower in the Klondike, Nome and McCarthy mining areas and the restoration of her house in McCarthy as a touchstone for the story.

Pat Garrett is a retired clinical social worker and comes from a family of miners. She has volunteered at the McCarthy-Kennicott Historical Museum for nine summers and is currently writing a book about Kate Kennedy.

Escape to Freedom?: Sectional Conflict, Fugitive Slaves, and Black Whalers in Alaska

This paper will explore the history of transnational whaling as it migrated from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific and Alaskan waters. In particular, I will highlight the curious history of African-American whalers, some of whom joined up as crewmates on the ships after having fled slavery in the American South. The black whalers of the Pacific dealt with a foreign and unpredictable environment, harsh discipline, and dangerous work conditions if it meant the chance to leave the South behind for good.

Ian Hartman is Assistant Professor of History, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Territorial Days

Alaska Gold for Irish Dreams: The Irish during the Golden Era, 1867-1917

Alaska is studded with the memories of the Irish involvement during its Belle Époque era (1867-1917) from the mining towns of McGrath and McCarthy, to the Sullivan Roadhouse of Delta, Muldoon Road, Mulcahy Stadium and Delaney Parkstrip of Anchorage. The impact of the Irish people and their descendants are still with us, families of the Sullivans and O’Malleys who stayed, and Michael McGowan who took his gold and bought a farm in County Donegal, Ireland, that is still used by his family today. Two indelible characters are a part of gold rush literature: Sam McGee and Dan McGrew.

Sean McGrane has a bachelor’s degree in History and a graduate degree in Logistics; he has been a gold miner in the Fortymile and is now the president of the Irish Club of Alaska.

The Centrality of Publicity in the Discourse of Early Territorial Alaska: A Story Told Through Popular Alaskan Archetypes

In the early Territorial period, many of Alaska’s editors, businessmen, and politicians become convinced that Alaska’s perceived underdevelopment was primarily due to outside ignorance of Alaskan conditions, resources, and people. As ignorance was the enemy, the solution was therefore to educate outside decision makers and the public through the careful cultivation of favorable publicity. The result was an anxious hypersensitivity to “incorrect” representations and social criticism, an anxiety which often found expression in the various archetypes that populated Alaska’s newspapers: the clueless outsider, the virtuous booster, the demonic knocker, the self-serving self-appointed representative, the lying tourist, and the menacing Indian.

Ghert Abbott is a Ketchikan historian and recent graduate of the University of Alaska Southeast. He is working on a social history of Ketchikan from 1919 to 1931.

Right Beneath Your Nose:  The Anchorage Mormon History You Didn’t Know

Most Alaskans do not know that nearly one out of five people in Alaska are Mormons and that their core is in Anchorage, nor that Alaska is one of the top five states with the most Latter-day Saints within their borders.  This presentation will provide an overview from the time Mormon missionaries first arrived in Anchorage until the present culminating in the presence of thousands of Latter-day Saints worshiping in their chapels spread throughout Alaska’s most vibrant city.  Local LDS edifices include a beautiful Latter-day Saint temple as well as family history centers which provide opportunities for all local citizens to search out their ancestors.

Fred Woods is a professor of religious education at Brigham Young University and is writing a history of the Mormons in Alaska.

Thursday, 1:30-3:00

Russian America

Nushagak—From Russian Fort to Fish Camp

This presentation will examine the history of the village of Nushagak on the shores of the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay primarily through photographs and contemporary descriptions. Nushagak was the site of the first Russian trading post in Western Alaska, and was critical in the formation of the Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery.

Tim Troll is the Executive Director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust, a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve the wildlife habitat, culture, and history of Bristol Bay.

Fedor Kolmakov, Founder of Aleksandrovski and Kolmakov Redoubts in Southwestern Alaska and His Descendants in Alaska Today

Fedor Kolmakov is the seminal figure in the establishment and spread of the Russian fur trade and the Orthodox Religion in Western Alaska. He constructed Alexandrovskii Redoubt at Nushagak in 1818 and remained for 20 years as its manager. This presentation discusses his life and the times of Fedor Kolmakov in Western Alaska the search for his numerous descendants in Alaska and the creation of an Alaskan Kolmakov genealogy.

Beverly Simms has been researching and will soon publish a genealogy of the Fedor Kolmakov’s descendants in Alaska, of which she is one.

John W. Clark in Russian America (1866-1867) and Alaska (1868-1869)

This presentation examines the early career of John W. Clark, a member of the Western Union Russo-American Telegraph Expedition in Russian America in 1866 and 1867. Clark was a young laborer putting in telegraph poles, building brush camps and hauling freight by baidara. He is best known as the long-time chief trader for the Alaska Commercial Company at Nushagak where he traded throughout the Bristol Bay region. He was a founder of the shore-based commercial salmon industry in the Bay during the late 1870s and is the namesake of Lake Clark.

John Branson is Historian for the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and author of many books on the history of Bristol Bay. He received the Evangeline Atwood for Excellence from Alaska Historical Society in 2016.

Personal Histories

Walter Harper at Mount Hermon School: An Athabascan in Early 20th Century New England

This presentation will address a chapter in Ehrlander’s book Walter Harper: Alaska Native Son. The Irish-Athabascan Harper was the first person to stand atop Denali in 1913. Harper was a trail guide, riverboat pilot, and interpreter for Episcopal Archdeacon Hudson Stuck. He attended the Christian-based Mount Hermon School from 1913 to 1916. Mount Hermon contrasted starkly with the Carlisle model of assimilationist industrial schools for Native Americans by preparing its few Native students for continuing in the professions and returning to their home communities to fill leadership positions. The paper will analyze Harper’s experience at Mount Hermon.

Mary Ehrlander is director of the Arctic and Northern Studies Program and Professor of History, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Conducting Oral Histories as a Powerful Way to Connect Secondary School Students to the Past

Oral histories can be a powerful way to connect students to the past. In February and March of 2017 students at Highland Academy Charter School in Anchorage conducted a series of interviews at the Chester Park Senior Housing Cooperative. The students gathered the life histories of the residents and connected the events in their lives with major events U.S. and Alaskan history. The students went on to create slideshows, podcasts, and short documentaries for the Chester Park community. Although fewer than 25 students participated in the project, it was largely successful and holds the potential for expanding scope and number of participants in the future.

Simon Gorbaty is a newly minted Social Studies/History teacher with the Anchorage School District. He conducted his student teaching at Highland Academy Charter School.

Cannery Life on the Nushagak: The Story of Ella May Nielsen Nelson Adkison, 1910-1983

Ella May Nielsen Nelson Adkison was a Danish/Yupik woman who was born, raised and lived most of her adult life in canneries on the Nushagak River. Ella spent time in the Kanulik, Scandinavian, and Pacific American Fisheries canneries.  The story will be shared by Ella’s granddaughter, Mary Nelson Dinon, and will include private family photos of the area.

Mary (Nelson) Dinon was born and raised in Dillingham to a Canadian mother and Alaskan Native father.  She followed her mother into a nursing career and currently works for the Southeast Alaska Native Health Consortium in Klawock, Alaska.

Business and Politics

Alaska’s Oldest Company: How the Alaska Commercial Company Shaped the Territory 

This presentation offers a fresh look at the founders of the Alaska Commercial Company—San Francisco Jewish financiers and a New England businessman—who influenced economic development in the new American era. Goforth will included newly recovered information on Hayward M. Hutchinson, who purchased the Alaskan assets of the Russian American Company which became the foundation of the Alaska Commercial Company.

Pennelope Goforth is a writer and researcher who specializes in Alaska maritime history. She is a member of the Alaska Historical Society, Puget Sound Maritime Society, and Oregon Historical Society and is currently at anchor with her two cats at Cook’s Inlet at Anchorage, Alaska.

One Man’s Attack on the Company That Built a Territory, Ernest Gruening Against the Alaska Steamship Company: 1939-1971

On November 9, 1955 at Alaska’s Constitutional Convention former territorial governor Ernest Gruening gave a powerful and rousing keynote address. Gruening spent nearly a quarter of his speech launching an attack against the 1920 Jones Act, which he called “discrimination uniquely against Alaska.” His fury was not so much with the Jones Act but with the Alaska Steamship Company, which he briefly mentioned near the end of his address. This paper argues that while Gruening’s attacks on Alaska Steamship Company were not unfounded, his hatred for the company failed to acknowledge its significant contribution to the pre-statehood Alaskan economy and infrastructure development.

Pierce Bateman is a graduate student in the Arctic & Northern Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Alaska Railroad and Mount McKinley National Park

One hundred years ago, the original version of Denali National Park and Preserve was established (then known as Mount McKinley National Park). Park interpreters and historians often center the park’s creation story around conservationist Charles Sheldon and his quest to save the region’s Dall sheep; however, there is a key advocate in the park’s establishment that deserves more attention: the Alaska Railroad. Before 1917, railroads were vital to creating national parks and to the formation of the National Park Service agency. In 1916-1917, that trend continued in Alaska and resulted in Mount McKinley National Park.

Erik Johnson is a historian for the National Park Service at Denali National Park and Preserve. He serves on the Alaska Historical Society board of directors.

Thursday, 3:30-5:00 

Russian America & Alaska Purchase

Destination—Sitka:  ‘Special Correspondents’ and the Race to Report on the Transfer of Russian America to the United States 

American newspapers wanted to be the first to announce the October 18, 1867 transfer of Russian America to the United States, and for this they needed a “special correspondent” in Sitka. Telegraph lines had only recently reached British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, so to “scoop the story” a reporter needed to file a dispatch by any means necessary. This presentation profiles the New York Herald and Alta California correspondents who witnessed Alaska’s first days as a United States possession and then raced southward to report.

Chris Allan is a historian for the National Park Service and president of the Alaska Historical Society.

Lost in Place: Revisiting Alaska’s Fabled Russian Fort

According to legend, in 1648 the survivors of a Russian shipwreck drifted to the shores of what is now Alaska and built a fort along the “Kheuveren River.” Believing it might be the fabled fort, in 2009 Russian adventurers sought to locate a “fortification” on the Yukon River observed by Lavrentiy Zagoskin in 1844. This paper discusses past research tied to the so-called “Kheuveren Legend” and details what is known about the reported Yukon River fortification.

Ken Pratt is the ANCSA Program Manager for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Alaska Region) and has an enduring interest in Russian America and Alaska Native history.

The Transformation of Sitka, 1867-1877

The decade following the transfer of Russia’s possessions in Alaska to the United States saw a complete transformation of Sitka—from a Russian company town built of logs, whose leaders had to defer to the Tlingit, to a recognizable American frontier town where the Tlingit people were marginalized and impoverished. This presentation uses memoirs, newspapers, and government records to examine the complex and sometimes violent social, political and economic interactions of the Tlingit, the Army and other Americans, and the “Creoles”—the people in Sitka of mixed Russian and Alaska Native descent.

Rebecca Poulson is an artist in Sitka, Alaska working on a book about Sheldon Jackson School and College. She is on the Alaska Historical Society board of directors and is a member of the Alaska Historical Commission. 

Alaska’s Fisheries

How to Count Fish: The Amazing, Incredible, and Untold History of Keeping Alaska Fishery Statistics

Alaska produces over half the nation’s wild seafood and boasts a record of managing its fish for sustainability. Good fisheries management depends on knowing a few key statistics: how many of what kind of fish are caught, when and where. It may seem simple but statistical record-keeping has an ornate history. Hard data didn’t exist 150 years ago when fishermen who heard about Alaska’s abundance of cod, halibut, and salmon pushed for purchase of the territory from Russia. Now fish are counted in thousands of statistical areas that range in size from few city blocks to the state of Idaho. Some find statistics boring. They’re anything but in the world of Alaska fish.

Bob King is a life member of Alaska Historical Society and frequent conference contributor. Now semi-retired, King lives in Juneau and continues to write about Alaska fisheries history.

Changing Tides: Alaska Natives in the Bristol Bay Salmon Fishery

Alaska Natives in Bristol Bay played a significant role in shaping the Bristol Bay commercial salmon fishery. Although they were often denied entrance to the fishery industry, World War I and especially World War II created a need for labor. Finally allowed to fish the cannery sailboats, Alaska Natives proved to be adept fishermen. Although often the underdogs in the fishery, Alaska Natives held their own, engaging in both the drift and setnet fisheries. Statehood and then limited entry greatly impacted how Alaska Natives engaged in the fishery as the right to fish became a commodity instead of a birthright.

Bridget Groat is a doctoral student at Arizona State University where she studies Native American History with a focus on Alaska, history of the American West, and environmental history.

Local Histories

Walking on the Wild Side: Juneau’s Downtown and South Franklin Street in the 1940s

Bars, pool halls, bawdy-houses, flop-houses, cafes, and stores crowded downtown Juneau and South Franklin Street in Juneau in the 1940s.  The largest city in Alaska at the time, Juneau hummed night and day, bustling with steamers, navy ships, airplanes, fishermen, miners, and longshoremen. Drawing on interviews, newspapers, photographs, and the police blotter, downtown life in Juneau 80 years ago can be vividly imagined, highlighting the distinct features of that time and that place.

Averil Lerman is an Alaskan attorney and legal historian working on a book about the conviction and hanging of two African-American men in Juneau after a murder in 1946.  She also serves on the Alaska Historical Society board of directors.

Hearts of Courage: The Survivors of the 1943 Gillam Crash

On January 5, 1943 a Lockheed Electra with six onboard departed Seattle destined for Anchorage with a scheduled fueling stop at the Annette Island airfield. The pilot was the legendary Harold “thrill-em, chill-em, spill-em, but no kill-em” Gillam. Experiencing a loss of power to the left engine the plane crashed 30 miles southeast of Ketchikan and east of Annette Island. One of the passengers that day was Joseph Tippets, a CAA employee returning to his home in Anchorage. This presentation by Tippets’ son will tell the story of the crash, the fate of Harold Gillam, the courageous survival experiences of four men and their miraculous ultimate rescues.

John Tippets was born in Anchorage in 1941 and has an MBA from UCLA. He had a 42-year career associated with American Airlines, including a final 17 years as the President/CEO of the American Airlines Federal Credit Union.

A Winter at the Russian House

“Alaska became a state in 1959, and I became 21,” David Leuthe wrote in his pending memoir, The 50-Year Summer.  On short acquaintance he became “obsessed,” he says, with the Russian settlement of Alaska.  After graduation from Wisconsin State in 1962, having studied every Russian topic offered, and after “another salmon season at Kenai Packers,” he enrolled at the University of Washington and settled into the Russian House, a community of language scholars and eccentrics, among them legendary cook Pavla Constantinevna and David’s “prodigy” roommate Duncan Ward Smith, who was studying Chinese, not Russian. It was a pivotal winter.

Jackie Pels was born in Seward and reared mostly in coastal Alaska.  As Hardscratch Press, she and her designer partner, David Johnson, have published more than two dozen books of memoir and community history.

Friday, 10:30-12:00

 Russian America & Alaska Purchase

The Law of Unintended Consequences: The Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act as a Legacy of the Alaska Purchase

Because Congress made no treaties with Alaska Native people, because treaty-making ceased in 1871, and also because Congress undertook no comprehensive land disposition in Alaska until the statehood act, the Native claims settlement act and the Alaska lands act, most of the land in Alaska was subject to aboriginal title, title legitimized by the Supreme Court in 1941. Thus land was available, unreserved and unoccupied, for the conferring of Native title in 1971. Had Congress made treaties with Alaska Natives following the purchase, Alaska Natives today would likely be living on traditional reservations, little land would be in Native title, and Alaska Natives would not be fully integrated into the economic, social and political life of Alaska.

Stephen Haycox is the Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He received the 2016 James H. Ducker Historian of the Year Award from Alaska Historical Society.

Melting the Ice Curtain: Contemporary Alaska-Russia Relations Since the Alaska Purchase

As Americans mark the 150th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska, an extraordinary aspect of that history is the effort by Alaska and Soviet citizen diplomats to help end the Cold War. Their work in melting the Bering Strait “ice curtain” ushered in a 30-year era of perilous yet prolific progress to bridge a gap in superpower relations, a model sorely needed today. Journalist and political aide David Ramseur will detail the importance of this fascinating era which he documents in his new book Melting the Ice Curtain: The Extraordinary Story of Citizen Diplomacy on the Russia-Alaska Frontier.

David Ramseur is a visiting scholar in public policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research; he also reported on politics for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner before serving as an aide to Alaska Governors Steve Cowper and Tony Knowles and to Anchorage Mayor and U.S. Senator Mark Begich.

Envisioning Alaska: the Artistic Legacy of Russian America

Between 1743 and 1867 over a dozen artists travelled to Alaska on voyages sponsored by the Russian Crown and the Russian-American Company. Their pencils and brushes captured peoples and places of Alaska. Published in the accounts of scientific expeditions, these images captivated readers in Russia, the United States and Europe, and “delivered” Alaska to the world’s capitals, shaping public and political opinions about Alaska and forging powerful perceptions about its cultural and socio-political identity. This paper will discuss the role of this artistic record in the history of Russian America and introduce a new website dedicated to this legacy.

Evguenia Anichtchenko is Russian-American historian and anthropologist, who has called Alaska home for over a decade. She is Executive Director of the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society.

Facing Controversy

“They Burned It Down”: Housing Discrimination in Mid-Twentieth Century Anchorage

As Anchorage expanded in the 1940s, the city was unprepared for the influx of new residents, and as housing became an increasingly valuable commodity, racist attitudes manifested towards people of color restricted their purchase and rental access. These attitudes explicitly existed through the 1960s, in defiance of legal precedence and state law. In one notable instance, an African-American couple’s house was burned to the ground after they attempted to integrate an Anchorage neighborhood. A review of racist housing covenants, whites-only classified ads, oral histories, and African-American newspapers provides rich documentation regarding the pervasive nature of mid-century Anchorage housing discrimination.

David Reamer is a public history graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. He is currently researching African-American Anchorage history, LGBTQ homeless issues, and baseball.

The Mount McKinley-Denali Controversy and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names

For thousands of years, the highest point in North America has been known by Native Alaskans as Denali. In 1898, the name Mount McKinley was first applied to Federal maps of Alaska. In 1975, Governor Jay Hammond of Alaska requested that the government officially change the name to Denali. However, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names did not process the proposal due to the actions of congressmen from Ohio who wanted the mountain to be forever named McKinley. In 2015, a visit to Alaska by President Obama and Secretary Sally Jewell provided an opportunity for the Board on Geographic Names to finally help resolve the issue.

Douglas Vandegraft is the Chief of the Mapping and Boundary Branch for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and a member of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Doug lived in Alaska for many years and currently resides in Virginia.

Alaska’s Oil: A Taxing History

Since territorial days, Alaska’s politicians and the oil industry have sparred over the state’s tax on its oil resources. From subtle maneuvering to outright bribes, oil companies and their lobbyists have influenced elections, legislators, and governors in their effort to pay as little as possible for the privilege of extracting Alaska’s most valuable natural resource. This paper examines newspaper accounts, legislative hearings and reports, and Alaska history books to construct a narrative of the people and politics involved in the state’s long and contentious oil tax battle—a battle that continues in the halls of Alaska’s capitol today.

Lisa Weissler is a 36-year veteran of Alaska politics and has worked as assistant attorney general, staff counsel to the House Democratic Majority, and a policy analyst in the Office of the Governor. Recently she served as a legislative assistant, assisting in yet another rewrite of Alaska’s oil and gas production tax.

General Interest

Reflecting on the Kenai Peninsula History Conference—Lessons from a Sesquicentennial Gathering

In 2017 about 120 people gathered in Soldotna for a local history conference associated with the statewide Sesquicentennial observations. As project director for the conference, I want to share highlights, disappointments, and potential lessons for raising Alaskans’ awareness of history in their own communities. This was the first locally focused history meeting on the peninsula since 1974, and it sold out. Partner organizations and volunteers made the venture successful, but conspicuous gaps in content and participation existed. The presentation will share two unexpected opportunities that grew out of the conference project, report to the state historical community on what happened there, and brainstorm ways to help future history outreach efforts.

Shana Loshbaugh was the project director of 150 Years: Kenai Peninsula History Conference.

New Deals, Old Murals, and Artists from Outside: Arthur Kerrick’s Alaskan Landscapes

“Art Kerrick was a big man—big in stature both physically and artistically,” wrote friends of Kerrick in 1963 for a posthumous exhibit. The artist first visited the Alaska Territory with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Alaska Art Project in 1937, and in 1942 was commissioned to paint a mural that still hangs in the Anchorage Historic Federal Building. This presentation will explore the Alaskan Landscapes Kerrick painted, what this body of work says about the artist, how WPA artists saw the Alaska territory, and what a canvas mural conveys about nationalism.

Anne Rittgers is a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, pursuing a degree in Arctic and Northern Studies. Her work has focused primarily on Alaska history, politics, and economics.

Perspectives on Sexual and Domestic Violence in Rural Alaska

Alaska’s rate of reported sexual assault is nearly three times the national average, and underreporting may be as high as 70 percent. In rural communities, the rates of both sexual and domestic violence are higher still. My research explores how survivors, elders, and professionals view the issues surrounding this violence in remote communities through oral history methodology. I also will present preliminary findings, which include historical, intergenerational trauma. My research aims to shed light on the sources of this trauma and allow survivors and professionals working in the field to share their thoughts on solutions.

Katie Hayden was born and raised in Lake Minchumina; she graduated with a Biology degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Since that time has spent her summers working for the Department of Fish & Game at remote weir camps across Alaska.

Friday, 1:30-3:00

Alaska Natives & Alaska Purchase

Exploring the Legacy of Tlingit Kooteeya: The Stories of Two Iconic Taanta Kwaan Poles

Two iconic Tlingit Kooteeya or poles have the figures of Seward and Lincoln at the top. Many Euro-Americans have woven their stories about these poles; however, these poles are more about symbolic representation of the United States and Euro-Americans than they are about Seward and Lincoln. In recent years these poles have taken on new histories and the Seward pole will be rededicated in May 2017 with the erecting of a new pole. The legacy of these two poles will be explored.

Daniel Monteith is a Professor of Anthropology, University of Alaska Southeast. He has worked with numerous Native organizations doing ethnographic and ethnohistorical research.

An Interpretation of What the Chiefs Said on Living Free: A Koyukon Perspective on the Alaska Purchase and the Legacy of the Tanana Chiefs

The village of Tanana is situated at the confluence of the Tanana River and Yukon River, nearly dead center on a geographic map of Alaska. In 1867 this area was known by the Dine nation as Nuchalawoyya, and it was here leaders met on an annual basis to conduct the business of governing the nation. This presentation will focus on the perspective of a descendant of two of the original Tanana Chiefs—Chiefs Charlie and William and the Interpreter Paul Williams—on land claims and the concept of Russia’s “sale” of and America’s “purchase” of the great land we call Alaska.

Guy Peters is a Koyukon from the village of Tanana and descendant of Paul Williams, and Chiefs Charlie and William. His parents were involved in the original land claims meeting held in Tanana.

Hild Peters is Guy’s wife and a graduate of the Arctic and Northern Studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She presented the life story of the Reverend Helen Peters at the MA/AHS meeting in Cordova.

Russian Influence on the Language and World-View of the Yup’ik People

Language borrowings is a result of cross-cultural contacts and can produce changes in the recipient culture world view. The Yup’ik language borrowed more than 200 Russian words both in their forms and in their meanings. But there are also a large number of semantic borrowings when a Native word is assigned a new meaning under the influence of Russian culture. These semantic borrowings have religious meanings and they reveal changes in the religious world-view of the Yupik people.

Irina Sheina is a professor at the Institute of Foreign Languages at Ryazan State University, Dr. of Linguistics, Head of the Russian America Center.

Far North Perspectives

The Significance of the Arctic in American History

How does the Arctic fit into the greater narrative of North American history? Frederick Turner’s 1893 thesis discussed a vanishing frontier but did not consider the circumpolar north. The United States staked its claim in the Arctic through its purchase of Alaska just 25 years prior to Turner’s thesis but struggled to understand the continuity and change of cultures along its far northwestern American frontier. Just as Turner’s thesis sought to explain the growth of American civilization, understanding the significance of the Arctic helps us interpret Alaska’s place in American history.

Russ Vander Lugt is an Army Officer and doctoral student in Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His studies focus on military-indigenous relationships and policy in the Arctic from the nineteenth century to the present.

God Proposes, Man Disposes—Climate Change and the Arctic Sublime

As attention to climate change grows, the polar bear has emerged as the vulnerable victim of the industrialized world. Images of suffering polar bears widely circulated by print and digital media raise concerns among Americans about the survival of the species and the loss of its habitat. Given the ferocity of this predator at the top of the world, why is it that the polar bear has emerged as the ultimate identifiable victim in dialogues surrounding the global climate crisis? To answer this question, this paper will look back to the 19th-century—the golden age of Arctic exploration—when the Arctic, and therefore the polar bear, first entered the American public imagination.

Carolyn Kozak is a graduate student in Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has worked for Anchorage Museum and has research interests in circumpolar history, political communication, and image literacy.

Financial Planning for Non-Profits

Creating Your Own History in Alaska: Help Historical Societies and Museums Grow in Tax-Smart Ways

A little more than a year ago, the Alaska Historical Society opened an endowed fund with The Alaska Community Foundation. The idea: create a permanent endowment so that AHS activities will be supported now and long into the future. Local historical societies and museums also have the opportunity to create a sustainable source of revenue for their organizations. This session will explore what it means to create an endowment and look at ways to grow these fund. Participants will also learn how to personally give in tax-smart ways through current and estate gifts.

Beth Rose is Alaska Community Foundation’s VP of Philanthropy and External Relations and works with individuals, nonprofits and corporations who wish to make a difference in Alaska through philanthropy.

Katie St. John is Alaska Community Foundation’s Director of Program and Grants, and works with nonprofits and donors on the management of their funds and on strategic grant-making.

Saturday, 9:30-11:00

The Russian American Expeditions of Dr. Mikhail Malakhov

In 2009 Dr. Malakhov launched a series of expeditions to Alaska to investigate the routes of Russian exploration and trade, beginning with the journeys of Laverntiy Zagoskin in Western Alaska from 1842-1844. Malakhov hails from the City of Ryazan, the Russian home of Zagoskin. Malakhov will describe his investigations and observations over the last eight years, including his 2017 expedition from Dillingham on the Nushagak River to Aniak on the Kuskokwim River. He will also describe the efforts in Russia, and Ryazan in particular, to remember their history in Alaska.

Malakhov is himself a famous explorer having been to the North Pole more than 30 times. His government awarded him its highest honor—Hero of the Russian Federation—for his courage and determination, the first civilian to be so recognized.

Inside the Rare Book & Map Shop: A Tribute to Observatory Books

Patti Moss David will give a lively chat about her experience facilitating the liquidation of Dee Longenbaugh’s Observatory Books in Juneau, organizing and dispersing rare volumes, ancient maps, documents and valuable early Russian-Alaskana. She will speak about several rare documents, maps and volumes available to museums and share what it was like to dismantle a community institution.

Patti Moss David is a project management consultant to cultural and conservation focused non-profits. She has lived in Alaska since 1978.


Leah Geibel and Anastasia Tarmann

The Future of Historical Newspapers: Access & Preservation through Digitization

Newsprint is one of the most underrated historical primary sources. Think of it: daily or weekly records of events, statistics, and biographical information for 120 Alaskan communities since 1866. Plus, free access to researchers, genealogists, and students, worldwide. The Alaska State Library Historical Collections is currently working to increase access to Alaska’s historical newspapers through the NEH grant-funded National Digital Newspaper Program. The Alaska State Library Historical Collections will add 100,000 digitized pages of Alaskan newspapers to Chronicling America by August 2018. Chronicling America is a national Internet-based, text searchable database run by Library of Congress.

Anastasia Tarmann is a librarian at Alaska State Library Historical Collections in Juneau and Alaska NDNP Project Director. Leah Geibel is an archivist working as the Project Coordinator/Newspaper Librarian for the Alaska NDNP with the Alaska State Library Historical Collections.

Chet Walukiewicz

Alaska’s History Through Philately

Anchorage philatelist Chet Walukiewicz displays his extensive collection of Alaska’s philatelic history. From Russian Alaska, through the District of Alaska, to the Territory of Alaska, this collection documents the history of the 49th state through the U.S. Postal Service. This unique exhibit, which covers Alaska from 1784-1959, includes a rare signature of Secretary of State William Seward, letters carried by dog sled mail, early Russian and State Department stamps, and airmail commemorative covers from World War II. Historians will also be able to view what may be the last photographs of President Warren Harding and Wiley Post in Alaska, as well as mail recovered from wreck of the S.S. Yukon.


Shana Loshbaugh

Highlights of the 1974 Kenai History Conference (60 minutes)

Damon Stuebner and Angela Schmidt

Alaska’s Reel History: Films Celebrating the Purchase Centennial (32 minutes)

Terrence Cole

Pierre Berton’s “City of Gold” and Precursor (22 minutes)

Fred Woods

Melting the Ice: Launching Mormonism in Alaska (30 minutes)