Conflicting Visions in Alaska History
Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference
October 6-8 and 13-15, 2022
The Alaska Historical Society, with the Cook Inlet Historical Society, invites presentations for its 2022 annual conference whose theme is: “Conflicting Visions in Alaska History.” It is currently scheduled primarily online but with some in-person events in Anchorage, October 6-8 and 13-15. Environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth, whose 2019 book, Floating Coast, An Environmental History of the Bering Strait, received numerous awards, is the keynote speaker.
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.
SUBMIT A PROPOSAL!
Papers on all topics related to Alaska history are welcome. Presentations are limited to 20 minutes. All presenters must register for the conference.
To submit a proposal, please send presentation title, an abstract of 100 words or fewer, and two sentences about yourself to Rachel Mason, Program Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposals are due June 15, 2022.
On March 14, 2022 the Alaska Historical Society sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, commending her effort to replace offensive place names in Alaska, especially those which are derogatory to Alaska Native women.
Secretary Haaland has initiated the “Reconciliation of Derogatory Geographic Names” process across the country. Twenty-seven places have been identified for Alaska. The Alaska Historical Society stated:
This effort to change these names is a significant step toward removing harmful stereotypes and reducing intolerance while acknowledging the vital contributions of Alaska Native peoples to our state and nation. We believe this renaming process provides an important opportunity for Alaskans and all Americans to think critically about the past, celebrate moments of triumphs and reckon with injustice. In doing so, history promotes understanding and empathy; it expands our vision for change and enriches our public dialogue.
The letter also encouraged the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to consider using the original Native place names in this renaming process. The Native place names “recognize the historical significance of the locations and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of Alaska’s Native peoples.”
The Alaska Historical Society is pleased to support this effort to replace offensive place names. We encourage everyone to submit their own comments, as well.
Public comments are being accepted by the Department of the Interior until April 25, 2002 via the Federal Register website.
See the full letter from the Alaska Historical Society to Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, March 14, 2022.
A new volume in the Eyewitness Booklet Series has just been completed by Chris Allan. It is Eyewitness Series #7: On the Ragged Edge of Empire: Art and Architecture in Sitka, Alaska, by Eadweard Muybridge and John Fuller, 1867-1868, a collection of photographs and drawings showing Sitka’s transition from Russian colonial outpost to American town. This serves as a companion to Eyewitness Series #2 about the Alaska transfer ceremony.
All seven booklets in the series are available on the Eyewitness Booklet Series page on the Alaska Historical Society’s webpage under the Publications tab.
Come join Alaska Historical Society ANCSA 50th Committee members Bill Schneider, Karen Brewster, and Sue Sherif on Wednesday, February 16, 2022 at 7pm as they give a presentation on Zoom as part of the Tanana-Yukon Historical Society Winter Lecture Series. They will discuss the Guide to Sources for the Study of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that the committee has just completed.
Recognizing the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Its History
Please join us to learn how the Alaska Historical Society has compiled the story of the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) as documented in primary source documents in major archives and key published sources accessible in many of our libraries. The presentation will feature key moments in the events leading up to ANCSA, the passage of the Act, and the subsequent evolution of issues emanating from the legislation, as well as samples of the types of items to be found in the guide. The Guide also features an interpretive essay on ANCSA’s history and legacy, a timeline of key events, an annotated bibliography, a listing of the key players in the ANCSA movement, and educational resources. Join us to learn more about this key part of Alaska history.
To obtain the zoom link to the lecture series, please contact the Tanana-Yukon Historical Society at email@example.com or for more information about their lecture series, visit the News/Events portion of their website: https://tananayukonhistory.org/news-and-events/
Chris Allan has completed the sixth booklet in his “Eyewitness Series.” Eyewitness Series #6: In the Shadow of Eagle Bluff: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Army’s Fort Egbert at Eagle, Alaska, 1899-1902 is a collection of photographs, maps, and soldiers’ letters showing the evolution of a frontier outpost along the Yukon River.
Chris’s intent with these booklets is to showcase voices of the past: “I wanted to get away from the traditional historian’s narrative form where primary sources play a secondary or tertiary role behind the historian’s voice and analysis. I like the idea of people hearing history from the eyewitnesses. In each case, I was so impressed with what was available in digitized newspapers that I wanted to share it.” His booklet about mining operations at Coal Creek and Woodchopper Creek does the same as the others but allows photographers from the 1930s to tell the story. Each booklet includes advertisements, early maps, paintings, drawings and photographs previously unpublished or never collected in the same place.