Alaska Alive!

  • Period: 4000 BCE to 1500

    Indigenous Peoples of Alaska

    6,000 years ago: Alaska Natives or Alaskan Natives are indigenous peoples of Alaska, United States and include: Iñupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures. Throughout the Arctic and the circumpolar north, Alaska Natives established varying and complex cultures that have succeeded each other over time. They developed sophisticated ways to deal with the challenging climate and environment, and cultures rooted in the place.
  • 1500


    Trappers and traders called promyshlenniki began to extend European influence east from Moscow and Kiev toward Siberia in the late 1500s (LAND/PEOPLE)
  • Bering Land Bridge

    Bering Land Bridge
    The Bering Land Bridge dates back more than 16,000 years. This is believed to be how the first Native Americans traveled from Asian to North America. In 1590, the first written record by a European missionary suggested this idea. The land bridge theory has been researched and explored extensively since.
  • Russian Orthodox influence begins

    Russian Orthodox influence begins
    Russian Orthodox Church extended their influence along trails and waterways opened up by promyshelenniki, especially during the reign of Tsar Peter the Great. (PEOPLE)
  • Russian Explorations

    Russian Explorations
    Russian explorers, Vitus Bering and Aleksi Chirikov explored the Bering Strait waters and made first contact with the Native Alaskan peoples. This opened transportation and interested in the arctic region for fur trade. (PEOPLE/LAND)
  • Captain Cook Explorations

    Captain Cook Explorations
    English explorer Captain James Cook is credited with first exploring and describing the Anchorage area in 1778 during his third voyage of discovery. (LAND/PEOPLE)
  • Eruption and creation of Bogoslof

    Eruption and creation of Bogoslof
    The Bogoslof eruption was witnessed by Russian-American trappers off the coast of the Aleutian island Umnak. The eruption lasted three days and left the island when it subsided. (LAND)
  • First Mission School

    First Mission School
    First mission school for the Eskimos was established at Nushagak by Russian-Greek Orthodox Church
  • Commercial Whaling

    Commercial Whaling
    Yankee whalers begin commercial whaling in Alaskan waters.
  • Telegraph lines

    1865-67. Surveyors' map route for overland telegraph line through Alaska to Siberia.
  • End of Civil War

    End of Civil War
    Last shot of Civil War fired in Alaskan waters.
  • Name of "Alaska"

    Name of "Alaska"
    Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner popularized the name Alaska for the territory that had been known as Russian America in a famous Senate speech supporting the treaty to purchase Russian America.
  • Seward's Folly

    Seward's Folly
    U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signs a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s folly,” “Seward’s icebox,” and President Andrew Johnson’s “polar bear garden.” (LAND)
  • School in Wrangell

    School in Wrangell
    Sheldon Jackson sent Amanda McFarland, a Presbyterian missionary, arrived at Wrangell in 1877 to open a mission and school. The next year it became a girls school, and records show that it was open until 1889. (PEOPLE)
  • Brady's Mission School

    Brady's Mission School
    John Brady created an industrial boarding school for Native Alaskan students. (PEOPLE)
  • Angoon Conflict

    Angoon Conflict
    The little Tlingit Indian village of Angoon on Kootznahoo Inlet, Admiralty Island has several claims to fame. In 1882 a shaman of this group was accidentally killed in the explosion of a whaling gun. According to Indian usage, a white hostage was taken and indemnity of 200 blankets demanded. Having been apprized of the situation, Capt. Merriman of the Revenue Cutter Corwin steamed in from Sitka, shelled the town and demanded and received a counter-indemnity of 400 blankets.
  • Funding for mission schools

    Funding for mission schools
    Funds for education in Alaska appropriated to be distributed among the existing mission schools with Dr. Sheldon Jackson appointed as general agent for education in Alaska the following year.
  • Organic Act of 1884

    Organic Act of 1884
    This act provided for federal public education in Alaska. It was the start of many boarding schools created in Alaska under Sheldon Jackson. The education at the boarding schools focused on assimilation and western philosophy, religion and education.
  • Dr. Sheldon Jackson appointed

    Dr. Sheldon Jackson appointed
    Dr. Sheldon Jackson appointed as general agent for education in Alaska. He was a key advocate for English-Only education which devasted Alaska Native languages and cultures.
  • Klondike Gold Rush

    Klondike Gold Rush
    The Klondike Gold Rush brought over 100,000 people to Alaska. The Gold Rush brought businesses, booze, transportation needs and many other infrastructure changes to Alaska. Some mining towns, such as Skagway and Dawson developed into long standing municipalities, while others died out at the end of the rush.
  • Beginning of Commercial Salmon Canning

    Beginning of Commercial Salmon Canning
    It was not until eleven years after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia that the first cannery was built at Klawock by the North Pacific Trading and Packing Co. in 1878. It was operated until 1929 when Libby, McNeill & Libby bought it, operated it in 1929-30 and then closed it permanently.
  • The Nelson Act

    The Nelson Act
    In 1905, Congress passed the Nelson Act. It provided for the education of "white children and children of mixed blood who lead a civilized life" in those parts of the territory outside incorporated towns. The federal Bureau of Education was placed in charge of this program.
  • School Development

    School Development
    By 1912, incorporated towns supported schools for non-Natives, the Bureau of Education operated schools for non-Natives who lived outside of incorporated towns and for Natives, and a number of missionary groups continued to operate boarding and day schools for Natives. The next year, territorial legislature decided it would establish schools for "white children and children of mixed blood who live a civilized life." The legislature also passed a law requiring children to attend school.
  • Eruption of Novarupta

    Eruption of Novarupta
    The Novarupta vent exploded under Mount Katmai leaving the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Although the impact was felt by people in Juneau 750 miles away, the area was not explored until 1915 by Robert Griggs of National Geographic. No one died from the eruption.
  • Alaska Native Brotherhood

    Alaska Native Brotherhood
    Alaska Native Brotherhood founded the first modern Alaska Native organization.
  • Alaska Railroad

    Alaska Railroad
    The Alaska Railroad rail line from Seward to Fairbanks was constructed from 1915 to 1923. The track was created as a way to transport the mined goods from Interior Alaska to the ports in Seward. The State of Alaska purchased the Alaska Railroad from the federal government in 1985. It continues to be a main form of freight transportation and passenger transportation for Alaska.
  • Indian Citizenship Act

    Indian Citizenship Act
    Indian Citizenship Act grants citizenship to Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, without terminating tribal rights and property.
  • The Great Race of Mercy

    The Great Race of Mercy
    The hospital in Nome had not received its order for diphtheria vaccine before the shipping port closed for winter. By the end of January, 10,000 people were at risk for the disease in Nome and the surrounding area. The only way to deliver the medication was over land from the railroad in Nenana to Nome (674 miles). The team consisted of 20 mushers and 150 sled dogs. It took 5 1/2 days to deliver the medication in blizzard conditions.
  • Alaska Flag

    Alaska Flag
    Ben Benson, who as a boy 13 years old, designed Alaska’s flag, was born of an Aleut mother at Chignik in 1914. Upon the death of his mother in 1918, the orphaned boy and his younger brother were sent to the Jesse Lee Home at Unalaska which later moved to Seward. In October, 1926 the American Legion, Department of Alaska, announced a contest in school grades 7-12 to design a flag for Alaska. Benny Benson’s design was winner in a field of 142.
  • Education and the BIA

    Education and the BIA
    In 1931, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took over the operation of rural schools from the Bureau of Education. Alaska's program was combined with the other programs to educate American Indians.
  • The Matanuska Valley Experiment

    The Matanuska Valley Experiment
    During The Great Depression, the federal government offered cheap land to farmers from the Lower 48 in the Palmer area in hopes of developing agriculture in the area. The soil and endless daylight promised to be favorable. However the weather was not helpful and over next 5-10 years all but 40 of the original families left. However the Matsu Valley continues to be known as the agricultural center of Alaska.
  • Battle of Aleutian Islands

    Battle of Aleutian Islands
    During World War II the Japanese invaded the islands of Attu and Kiska. A battle to reclaim Attu was launched on May 11, 1943 and completed following a final Japanese banzai charge on May 29. On 15 August 1943, an invasion force landed on Kiska in the wake of a sustained three-week barrage, only to discover that the Japanese had withdrawn from the island on July 29.
  • Al-Can Highway

    Al-Can Highway
    The Alaska-Canadian Highway was completed during World War II by the Army Corps of Engineers. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the catalyst for the beginning construction. In nine months 16,000 workers built 1,422 miles of roadway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Big Delta, Alaska. It was opened to tourist traffic in 1948 and has been a destination for road-trippers since.
  • Russian-American Fur Trade

    Russian-American Fur Trade
    Between 1743 and 1799 over 100 Russian fur-hunting expeditions sailed into Alaskan waters and returned 187,000 pelts worth 8 million rubles (about 6 million dollars). (LAND/PEOPLE)
  • BIA Schools

    BIA Schools
    The Bureau of Indian Affairs opened vocational boarding schools at Eklutna, Kanatak, and Wrangell for Alaska Natives. A boarding school at Mount Edgecumbe opened in 1947; nearly 500 students enrolled. Courses offered including fishing, agriculture, boat building, carpentry, engine maintenance, radio operation, nursing, clerical training, and academic courses for future teachers. The Wrangell Institute became a boarding institute for orphaned Native children of elementary school age.
  • Alaska Statehood Act

    Alaska Statehood Act
    Alaska officially becomes the 49th state, signed by President Eisenhower.
  • Good Friday Earthquake

    Good Friday Earthquake
    A 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck south-central Alaska, killing 139 people from the earthquake and subsequent and Tsunami. The Tsunami was 220 feet and stretched from Alaska to California. The earthquake's epicenter was 45 miles west of Valdez. The earthquake was the second largest in recorded history. It caused approximately $116 million in property damage.
  • Provisions for Rural Schools

    Provisions for Rural Schools
    Alaska State Department of Education, 1965-66 biennium report, declared need for special provisions to accommodate conditions in rural Alaska. Established the Division of State Operated Schools, responsibility for rural and on-base military schools, created governor’s committee to explore merger of BIA and state schools.
  • Prudhoe Bay Oil

    Prudhoe Bay Oil
    ARCO and Humble Oil find signficant amounts of oil from drilling off the Arctic Coast. The early estimate for the field was 9.6 billion recoverable barrels. Today, technology has increased the estimate to 13 billion. Drilling and conservation of land continue to points of political disagreements.
  • Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)

    Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)
    The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The act transferred land titles to 13 regional Native corporations and 200 villages. This law has been consistently interpreted in courts regarding
  • First Iditarod to Nome

    First Iditarod to Nome
    Competitive sled dog racing began in 1908, however it ended during WWI. From 1966-69, Dorothy Page and Joe Reddington organized shorter sprint races as a way to preserve mushing as a sport as snow machines became more popular. In 1973, the first 1000 mile race from Willow to Nome. Twenty-two mushers finished that year.
  • Hootch v. Alaska

    Hootch v. Alaska
    In 1972, Alaska Legal Services sued the State of Alaska on behalf of Molly Hootch. The suit charged that boarding schools and correspondence courses did not provide the same educational opportunities as attending high school in the student's hole community. In 1976, the State of Alaska agreed with Alaska Legal Services that villages that had an elementary school should have high schools. The State of Alaska began a $143 million program to construct schools in compliance with the decree.
  • Trans-Alaska Pipeline

    Trans-Alaska Pipeline
    The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was built from 1975 to 1977. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal, ended up costing billions. Tax revenues alone earned Alaskans about $50 billion by 2002.
  • Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act

    Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act
    ANILCA was passed by congress with the support of President Jimmy Carter. This law added 43,585,000 acres of new national parklands in Alaska. It was highly controversial among Alaskans because it limited the usage of more land throughout the state. Forty-five percent of Alaskans supported the law, whereas 49% opposed it. The law did make provisions for Alaskan Native and rural Alaskan residential fishing and hunting permits.
  • Exxon Valdez

    Exxon Valdez
    The Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef in Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the water. This was the largest oil spill in US history at the time. More than 1,000 miles of coastline were damaged and hundreds of thousands of animals perished from the damage. Exxon was found negligent and charged with over $287 billion in damages. Twenty-five years later, university researchers are still finding traces of oil contamination in the area.
  • Homeschooling Statute

    Homeschooling Statute
    Alaska passes an extremely lax homeschool statute. There are no requirements—no notification, parent qualification, instruction time, subject, bookkeeping, or assessment requirements.
  • 7.0 Earthquake

    7.0 Earthquake
    On November 30, 2018, at 8:29 a.m. AKST, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Anchorage in South Central Alaska. The earthquake's epicenter was near Point Mackenzie, about 10 miles north of Anchorage, and occurred at a depth of 29 miles. This was the largest magnitude earthquake to hit the region since the Good Friday earthquake. Miraculously, no deaths reported.