Alaska Day

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Alaska Day
Observed byAlaskans
SignificanceFormal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States
ObservancesParade in Sitka, paid holiday for State of Alaska employees
Date October 18
Next timeOctober 18, 2021 (2021-10)
Related to Seward's Day

Alaska Day (Russian : День Аляски) is a legal holiday in the U.S. state of Alaska, observed on October 18. [1] It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States, which occurred on Friday, October 18, 1867.



On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for the sum of $7.2 million. [2] It was not until October of that year that the commissioners arrived in Sitka and the formal transfer was arranged. The formal flag-raising took place at Fort Sitka on October 18, 1867. The original ceremony included 250 United States Army troops, who marched to the governor's house at "Castle Hill". Here the Russian soldiers lowered the Russian flag and the U.S. flag was raised. [3]

The official account of the affair as presented by General Lovell Rousseau to Secretary of State William H. Seward:

... The troops being promptly formed, were, at precisely half past three o'clock, brought to a 'present arms', the signal given to the Ossipee ... which was to fire the salute, and the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag ... The United States flag ... was properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary [and son], George Lovell Rousseau, and again salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around ... Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said, 'General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska' and in a few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end." [1] [4]

Due to the 11-hour time difference between Sitka and St. Petersburg, and the fact that Russia still used the Julian calendar, the date is sometimes given as Saturday, October 7.[ citation needed ]


Alaska's territorial legislature declared Alaska Day a holiday in 1917. It is a paid holiday for state employees. [5] [6] The official celebration is held in Sitka, where schools release students early, many businesses close for the day, and events such as a parade and reenactment of the flag raising are held.[ citation needed ]

It should not be confused with Seward's Day, the last Monday in March, which commemorates the signing of the treaty for the Alaska Purchase in which the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867. [7]


Alaska Day is protested [8] by some Alaska Native people who view the holiday as an celebration of the violence used to take their land away. [9] [10] [11] Native organizers assert that the land was not Russia's to sell in the first place, therefore the sale of the land to the U.S. is illegitimate. [12]

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Russian colonization of the Americas

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  1. 1 2 Finkenbinder, Maria (2012). "Alaska Day Festival". Shelter Cove Publishing. Archived from the original on June 8, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  2. "Treaty with Russia for the Purchase of Alaska". Library of Congress. April 18, 2012. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  3. William S. Hanable (April 4, 1975) National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: American Flag-Raising Site (AHRS Site Sit 002) / Baranov Castle / Castle Hill, National Park Service and Accompanying 5 photos, from 1954, 1965, 1967.
  4. "Transfer of Alaska to the United States - Letters between William H. Seward and Lovell H. Rousseau" (PDF). The Washington Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Oct., 1908), pp. 83-91. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  5. "Happy Alaska Day, Great Land!". Alaska Dispatch. October 18, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  6. "State Calendar". Alaska Department of Administration. 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  7. "Student Information". State of Alaska. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2008.
  8. Russell, Emily (October 26, 2016). "Alaska Day Dilemma: celebrating history without colonialism". KCAW News. Sitka, United States: KCAW. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  9. Gibson, Sarah (October 18, 2017). "Clans Give Views On Events of 1867". Sitka Sentinel (subscription required). Sitka, United States. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  10. Kwong, Emily (October 17, 2017). "150 years in the making, Kiks.ádi gather to commemorate loss of land". KCAW News. Sitka, United States: KCAW. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  11. Kwong, Emily (November 24, 2017). "Indigenous voices call for a new kind of Alaska Day". KCAW News. Sitka, United States: KCAW. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  12. Woolsey, Robert (October 16, 2019). "In Sitka, Indigenous Peoples Day a prelude to broader 'reconciliation'". KCAW News. Sitka, United States: KCAW. Retrieved October 21, 2019.