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An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past by Stephen Haycox, Mary Mangusso

By Stephen Haycox, Mary Mangusso

Alaska, with its Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut historical past, its century of Russian colonization, its peoples’ bold struggles to wrest a dwelling (or a fortune) from the North’s remoted and cruel setting, and its rather contemporary success of statehood, has lengthy captured the preferred mind's eye. In An Alaska Anthology, twenty-five modern students discover the region’s pivotal occasions, major topics, and significant gamers, local, Russian, Canadian, and American. The essays selected for this anthology signify some of the best writing on Alaska, giving nice intensity to our knowing and appreciation of its background from the times of Russian-American corporation domination to the newer risk of nuclear trying out via the Atomic strength fee and the impression of oil cash on green politicians. Readers might be acquainted with an past anthology, Interpreting Alaska’s History, from which the current quantity developed to deal with an explosion of study long ago decade. whereas some of the unique items have been came upon to be irreplaceable, greater than 1/2 the essays are new. the result's a clean viewpoint at the topic and a useful source for college kids, academics, and students.

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Russian eastward expansion from the Urals was really a rush for "soft gold"-principally sables in Siberia and sea otters in America. The latter succeeded the former as the world's most valuable furbearers, and the resultant overhunting took the Russian promyshlenniki ever eastward-from the basin of the Ob' [River] to the Enisei and Lena, then to the peninsula of Kamchatka, along the Aleutian archipelago to the Gulf of Alaska, and finally down the Northwest Coast. The depletion of sea otters was especially rapid because of the creatures' low fertility (one offspring per year per dam) and high value (of the dam in particular).

The best market for these pelts was Kiakhta, on the SiberianMongolian border south of Lake Baikal, visited by Chinese merchants. The news about the whereabouts of the sea otter set off a fur rush to the east that resulted in finding more of northwestern America. The move was financed by merchants and traders from European Russia and Siberia. The manpower was furnished by promyshlenniki-fur hunters and trappers -petty entrepreneurs, peasants, and Kamchadals in Siberia. In locally constructed vessels, some eighty voyages were made between 1743 and 1790.

Russian Dependence on the Natives of Alaska JAMES R. GIBSON James Gibson of the Geography Department at York University near Toronto has devoted much of his career to the study of Russia's involvement in the North Pacific maritime fur trade. His early book Imperial Russia in Frontier America (New York: Oxford University Press, 7975) addressed the problem of supplying Russian America, a problem the Russians never adequately solved. His most recent work, a monumental study, Otter Skins, Boston Ships and China Goods: The Maritime Fur Trade on the Northwest Coast, 1 785-1841 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 7992), provides comprehensive detail on the economic and social aspects of the fur trade and explores the complex relationships between its various players: Native hunters, American, English, and Russian merchants and seafarers, and Chinese traders and wholesalers.

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