AHS Blog

Call for Submissions

Date Posted: December 8, 2016       Categories: News

150 Years: Kenai Peninsula History ConferenceAlaska-150-logo

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: kenaipeninsulahistory@gmail.com. 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.

For more information about the plans, see our website at: http://kenaipeninsulahist.wixsite.com/conference.

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)

Fur trade

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?)

Ship building

Lasting legacies of the Russian period

Role of the Russian Orthodox Church

Russian schools

Russian foods

Kitchen gardens

Place names

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

Ethnic identity

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

Social aspects

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

Fort Kenay

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

Americanization efforts

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

Summing up

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?