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)
Frequencyannual
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.

Contents

Background

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 ]

Observance

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]

Protest

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]

Related Research Articles

Alaska State in the United States

Alaska is a U.S. state on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. An exclave of the U.S., it borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon to the east and southeast and has a maritime border with Russia's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic Ocean, while the Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest.

Russian colonization of the Americas

The Russian colonization of the Americas covers the period from 1732 to 1867, when the Russian Empire laid claim to northern Pacific Coast territories in the Americas. Russian colonial possessions in the Americas are collectively known as Russian America. Russian expansion eastward began in 1552, and in 1639 Russian explorers reached the Pacific Ocean. In 1725, Emperor Peter the Great ordered navigator Vitus Bering to explore the North Pacific for potential colonization. The Russians were primarily interested in the abundance of fur-bearing mammals on Alaska's coast, as stocks had been depleted by over hunting in Siberia. Bering's first voyage was foiled by thick fog and ice, but in 1741 a second voyage by Bering and Aleksei Chirikov made sight of the North American mainland.

Sitka, Alaska Consolidated city-borough in Alaska, United States

The City and Borough of Sitka, formerly Novo-Arkhangelsk under Russian rule, is a unified city-borough in the southeast portion of the U.S. state of Alaska. The city is situated on the west side of Baranof Island and the south half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean. As of the 2010 census, Sitka had a population of 8,881.

Flag of Alaska

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Alaska Purchase 1867 sale of Alaska to the USA by Russia

The Alaska Purchase was the United States' acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Alaska was formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867, through a treaty ratified by the United States Senate and signed by President Andrew Johnson.

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The Department of Alaska was the designation for the government of Alaska from its purchase by the United States of America in 1867 until its organization as the District of Alaska in 1884. During the department era, Alaska was variously under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury and the U.S. Navy. The area later became the District of Alaska, then the Territory of Alaska, then the State of Alaska.

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USS <i>Jamestown</i> (1844)

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The Sheet'ká Ḵwáan Naa Kahídi is a performance venue and meeting space modelled after a Tlingit clan house in Sitka, Alaska. Its capacity is 300 people. Some translate the building's name to "The House of the Sitka People." It is also known as the "Community House." It is the home of the largest hand-carved house screen in Southeast Alaska.

USCGC <i>Maple</i> (WLB-207)

USCGC Maple (WLB-207) is a Juniper-class seagoing buoy tender operated by the United States Coast Guard. She was based at Sitka, Alaska for 16 years and is currently homeported at Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Her primary mission is maintaining aids to navigation, but she also supports search and rescue, law enforcement, oil spill response, and other Coast Guard missions.

Dmitry Petrovich Maksutov

Prince Dmitry Petrovich Maksutov was an Imperial Russian Navy rear-admiral who was the last Governor of Russian America (1863–1867). He has streets dedicated to his memory in Sitka and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

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Lovell Rousseau

Lovell Harrison Rousseau was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, as well as a lawyer and politician in Kentucky and Indiana.

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Castle Hill also known as the American Flag-Raising Site and now as the Baranof Castle State Historic Site, is a National Historic Landmark and state park in Sitka, Alaska. The hill, providing a commanding view over the city, is the historical site of Tlingit and Russian forts, and the location where Russian Alaska was formally handed over to the United States in 1867. It is also where the 49-star United States flag was first flown after Alaska became a state in 1959.

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Outline of Alaska Overview of and topical guide to Alaska

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Teri Rofkar, or Chas' Koowu Tla'a, was a Tlingit weaver and educator from Sitka, Alaska. She specialized in Ravenstail designs and spruce root baskets.

References

  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.