150 Years: Kenai Peninsula History Conference
In April, 2017, the Kenai Peninsula will host its first local history conference in 43 years. This event coincides with statewide observances of the 150th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska. You are invited to submit ideas for presentations at the main conference, to be held April 21 and 22, 2017 (the Friday and Saturday after Easter) at the Kenai Peninsula College Kenai River Campus in Soldotna.
We are seeking people to read or present talks on the conference themes of:
- The transition from Russian to US rule in Southcentral Alaska;
- The Kenai Peninsula in the mid to late 1800s (society, economy, history, religion, culture, resource use);
- Interactions among the region’s Sugpiaq, Dena’ina, Russian, and US cultures; and
- Modern legacies and issues tracing back to the transfer
Below is a more detailed list of potential topics.
Talks should be a maximum of 15 minutes long, suitable for high-school students and older audiences, and based on either original research or sources that can be cited. Team presentations are fine. We ask presenters to grant permission for recording their talks, and to submit written versions to be included in the conference proceedings book afterwards.
You are also encouraged to submit proposals for posters, panel discussions, field trips, or other activities compatible with the conference. And volunteers are always welcome.
If you want to do a presentation, please submit a title and abstract (summary of what you want to talk about) no longer that 250 words. Email it to Shana Loshbaugh at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission deadline is January 15, 2017. If you have questions or want to brainstorm ideas, call her at 907-460-7554.
Presenters are required to register for the conference and will receive a 20% discount. Registration will not open until January, and we do not yet know the cost but intend to keep it modest. We will provide editorial assistance in preparing talks for the published proceedings.
List of Possible Topics
Whose history? Issues of fairness, accuracy, inclusion, and power
What was the Treaty of Cession: origin and content
Exclusions of Alaskans from the decisions, then and now
Myths about the sale
Lingering legal questions about the treaty (Native and Russian)
Dena’ina role in controlling land-based furs
Sea mammal hunting in Chugach society
Sea otters in Alaska history; their near extinction
Changes in the fur trade associated with the early US period
Traditional trapping activities
Fur trading posts on the Kenai Peninsula
Ecosystem changes related to the fur trade
Other economic activities of the mid-1800s
Doroshin’s gold discoveries
Coal operations at Port Graham
Early fishing (subsistence & saltries?)
Lasting legacies of the Russian period
Role of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian language: Ninilchik dialect; loan words in Dena’ina and Sugt’stun
How do modern Russian immigrants and tourists see the Kenai Peninsula?
Community portraits: Kenai, Ninilchik, Nanwalek, Seldovia
Genealogy of original families
Diverse Native groups on the Kenai Peninsula
Diverse Russian ethnicities on the Kenai Peninsula – old and new
How historical forces relocated people and mixed diverse ethnicities
Native, Russian-American, or Sourdough?
What has it meant to be Creole?
Modern Creole views of Russian and Native cultures
Possible panel discussion on ethnic identities
Transmitting traditional values and cultures
Epidemics and population decline
Lost villages of the peninsula (such as the history of Kalifornsky Village)
Roles of indigenous women as leaders, slaves, workers, wives, and mothers
Findings from early historic archaeology sites
Changing livelihoods and resource uses
The transfer from Russian to US control
US presence in the region during the Russian period
What was the Russian presence in 1867?
How was news of the sale spread and received?
Arrival of US officials
First US descriptions/assessments of the Kenai Peninsula
The wreck of the Torrent
Kenai Peninsula life in the decades after the purchase
Time of US neglect?
Changes for Natives and Creoles
Russians who remained in the area
Changing role of the Russian Orthodox Church
First US citizens: traders? missionaries?
American use of Native and Russian information
Suppression of indigenous languages & traditions (such as potlatches)
US management of “Indians”
Discovery of the area’s natural bounty (first prospectors, explorers)
Personalities such as V. Stafeev, Mary Forgal Lowell, Chief Afanasii, Orthodox clergy, founders of Ninilchik
Adventurers such as Ivan Petroff, Joshua Slocum & George Holt
Revival of Native cultures?
What is special about the Kenai Peninsula?
How have attitudes changed?
What have we learned in 150 years?
Where should we be going in the future?
How can knowing our history help us create a better future?