From Siberia to Alaska: The Residual Culture of Russia in Alaska
In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. The area was largely unexplored and its Native population was unknown. Russian influence in Alaska was evident, however, in the architecture of the few settlements that existed and in the Orthodox churches that dotted the landscape. Although Russia no longer had a physical presence in Alaska, its culture lingered.
Russians first arrived in Alaska in 1741, when a group of explorers led by Vitus Bering landed on the island that now bears his name. The Russians were searching for a route to the Orient, but they found something else: a rich land full of fur-bearing animals. The fur trade quickly became the cornerstone of the Russian presence in Alaska.
In 1784, the first permanent Russian settlement was established in Kodiak. Other settlements soon followed, including Sitka, the capital of Russian Alaska. The Native population of Alaska was largely unknown to the Russians. The few encounters that did occur were often hostile, as the Russians were seen as a threat to Native hunting and fishing grounds.
The Russians had a profound impact on Alaska, both good and bad. They introduced new technologies, such as firearms and metalworking, and new diseases, such as smallpox. They also disrupted traditional Native ways of life.
The Russian Orthodox Church was an important part of Russian life in Alaska. The first Orthodox chapel was built in Kodiak in 1794. By the time Alaska was sold to the United States, there were more than 60 Orthodox churches in the territory.
The Russian Orthodox Church played a significant role in the lives of Native Alaskans. Many Natives converted to Orthodoxy and began to practice the faith. The church also played a role in the education of Native children.
Although the Russian presence in Alaska was short-lived, its impact was long-lasting. The architecture of Russian settlements can still be seen in many parts of Alaska. The Orthodox churches built by the Russians are also a reminder of Russia's influence. The residual culture of Russia in Alaska is a testament to the impact that a few hundred years can have on a land and its people.
The Russians were the first Europeans to settle in Alaska, and their influence is still evident today. Russian architecture can be seen in the state capital of Juneau and in other cities such as Sitka. The state flag even features the Russian double-headed eagle.
Although the Russian period in Alaska only lasted about 80 years, it left a lasting impression on the state. The Russian Orthodox Church is still present in Alaska, and many Alaskans continue to practice the faith. The Russian language is also still spoken by some Alaskans.
The Russian influence in Alaska is a reminder of the state's complex history. Alaska has been home to Native peoples for thousands of years, and it has been a part of two different European empires. The Russian period was just a brief chapter in Alaska's long history, but it is a significant one.
Both the United States and Russia need to continue to work together to build trust and reduce the risk of a nuclear war.