Presented below is a chronology
of historical events derived from written records. Native Alaskan
history prior to the arrival of Russians and Europeans was passed
on almost exclusively through oral narratives and stories. These
oral histories converge with archeology to suggest that Natives
have lived and moved through Alaska for at least 10,000 years. The
list of events below, however, primarily reflects the history of
western settlers who entered Alaska less than 300 years ago. For
more information about Alaska Natives, their history, and oral traditions,
visit our Alaska
Native page and try the links at the bottom. The
following information was taken from The Blue Book, 1993-1994 the
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaska Almanac, Alaska Economic Trends,
1999, and the Anchorage Daily News.
||Tzar Peter the Great
sends Vitus Bering to explore the North Pacific.
||Vitus Bering sails
through Bering Strait.
||Bering embarks on
his second expedition, with George Wilhelm Steller aboard, the
first naturalist to visit Alaska.
with Bering's expedition, sights land on July 15 in Southeast
Alaska. The Europeans had found Alaska.
report on the North Pacific fur seal.
of sea otter by Russia begins.
||Juan Perez is ordered
by Spain to explore the west coast and discovers Prince of Wales
Island, Dixon Sound.
||Captain James Cook
leads an expedition to search for Northwest Passage.
||Cook reaches King
Island, Norton Sound, Unalaska.
establishes the first permanent non-Native settlement at Three
Saints Bay, Kodiak.
discovers the rookeries on the islands now known as the Pribilofs.
leaves England to explore Alaska's coast; Alejandro Malaspina
explores the Pacific Northwest coast for Spain.
||Catherine II grants
a limited monopoly of furs in Alaska to Grigorii Shelikov.
||Baranov builds the
first vessel in northwestern America at Voskres-senski on Kenai.
||The first Russian
Orthodox Church is established at Kodiak.
establishes the Russian post known today as Old Sitka; Tzar
Paul I grants exclusive trading rights to the Russian American
||Tlingits drive Russians
from Old Sitka; few Russians survive.
||Russians return to
Sitka and attack Tlingit Kiksadi fort on Indian River. Russians
lose the battle, but Natives are forced to flee. Baranov reestablishes
the Russian settlement at the modern site of Sitka.
||Yurii Lisianski sails
to Canton with the first Russian cargo of furs to be sent directly
||No foreigners are
allowed in Russian-American waters except at regular ports of
||Russians begin exploration
of mainland Alaska that leads to discovery of the Nushagak,
Kuskokwim, Yukon, and Koyukuk Rivers.
moves to Sitka and is consecrated Bishop Innokenty in 1840.
diocese formed. Bishop Innokenty Venianminov given permission
to use Native languages in the liturgy.
||Edward de Stoeckl
assigned to the secretariat of the Russian legation in U.S.
Fort Yukon established by the
Hudson's Bay Trading Company.
of St. Michael Dedicated at New Archangel (Sitka).
explorer -trappers find oil seeps in Cook Inlet.
mining begins at Coal Harbor on the Kenai Peninsula.
Stoeckl returns to U.S. from St. Petersburg with authority to
negotiate the sale of Alaska.
discovered on the Stikine River near Telegraph Creek.
Union Telegraph Company prepares to put telegraph line across
Alaska and Siberia.
purchases Alaska from Russia; Pribilof Islands
placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury.
Fur seal population which was stable under Russian rule, declines
designated as the Department of Alaska under Brevet Major General
Jeff C. Davis, U.S. Army.
Sitka Times, Alaska's first newspaper is published.
is discovered near Sitka and in British Columbia (Cassiar).
Halt, said to be the first white man to cross the Chilkoot Pass,
searches for gold.
discovered south of Juneau at Windham Bay.
troops withdrawn from Alaska.
future Sheldon Jackson Junior College opens in Sitka. First
canneries in Alaska are established at Klawock and Sitka.
Harris and Joseph Juneau, with the aid of local Tlingit leader
Kowee, discover gold on Gastineau Channel; Juneau is founded.
Lode claim staked which by 1995 is part of the most prominent
mine in Alaska; the Treadwell Mine.
first commercial herring fishery begins at Killisnoo; near Angoon
and the first two canneries are built in Central Alaska. The
U.S. Navy bombs and burns the Tlingit village of Angoon.
passes the Organic Act, allowing the first local government,
and $15,000 is appropriated to educate Indian children.
C.H. Townsend suggests the introduction of reindeer into Alaska.
Sheldon Jackson appointed General Agent for Education in Alaska.
William Duncan and his Tsimshian followers found Metlakatla
on Annette Island.
survey start by Dr. W.H. Dall of the U.S. and Dr. George Dawson
corporate salmon canneries begin to appear. Dr. Sheldon Jackson
explores Arctic Coast and begins reindeer husbandry into Alaska.
oil claims staked in the Cook Inlet area.
Reserve established, beginning the Alaska Forest Service System.
discovery on Mastadon Creek, founding Circle City.
City founded at the mouth of the Klondike River; gold discovered
on Bonanza Creek.
shipment of fresh halibut sent south from Juneau.
is the largest city in Alaska; work starts on White Pass and
Yukon railroad; Congress appropriates money for telegraph from
Seattle to Sitka; Nome gold rush begins.
government organized in Nome.
Code for Alaska divides the future state into three judicial
districts, with judges at Sitka, Eagle, and St. Michael; capital
moves to Juneau. White Pass railroad completed; U.S. Congress
passes the act to establish the Washington-Alaska Military Cable
(WAMCATS) that later becomes the Alaska Communications Systems
Theodore Roosevelt establishes the Alexander Archipelago Forest
Tlingit potlatch held in Sitka; underwater cables laid from
Seattle to Sitka, and from Sitka to Valdez, linking Alaska to
railroad built; telegraph links Fairbanks and Valdez; Alaska
Road Commission established under Army jurisdiction.
authorized to send voteless delegate to Congress; governor's
office moved from Sitka to Juneau.
discovered at Ruby; Richardson trail established; The Alexander
Archipelago Forest Reserve becomes the Tongass National Forest,
the largest U.S. forest by presidential proclamation.
first cold storage plant is built at Ketchikan.
agreement between U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and Japan
controls fur, seal, and fisheries; sea otters placed under complete
protection; Copper River and Northwestern Railroad bigns service
to Kennicott Copper Mine.
status won for Alaska, providing for Legislature; Alaska Native
Brotherhood organizes in Southeast; Mount Katmai explodes forming
the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.
Alaska Territorial Legislature convenes.
begins for Alaska Railroad, and the City of Anchorage is born
as a construction campsite.
Native Sisterhood holds first convention in Sitka.
bill for Alaska statehood introduced in Congress. Alaskans vote
in favor of prohibition by a 2 to 1 margin.
Mine complex caves in.
creates Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines as a
land grant college.
organizes city government.
Agricultural College and School of Mines opens. Native voting
rights established through a court case.
Warren E. Harding comes to Alaska to drive the last spike in
the Alaska Railroad.
extends citizenship to all Indians in the United States, Tlingit
William Paul, Sr. is the first Native elected to Alaska Legislature.
Start of airmail delivery to Alaska.
case resolves the right of Native children to attend public
Navy begins 5-year survey to map parts of Alaska; Alaska Native
Brotherhood convention at Haines resolves to pursue land claims
settlement in Southeast Alaska.
telephone communications established in Juneau, Ketchikan, and
Valley Project established; nine hundred Alaska-Juneau Gold
Mine workers go on a strike that lasts 40 days and ends in violence;
the "Jurisdictional Act of June, 1935" allows the
Tlingit and Haida Indians to pursue land claims in U.S. Court
"Indian Reorganization Act of 1935" is amended to
include Alaska; Nell Scott of Seldovia becomes the first woman
elected to the Territorial Legislature.
Richardson established; construction begins on Elmendorf Air
bombs Dutch Harbor and invades the Aleutians.
Gold Mine shuts down, ending hard rock mining around downtown
Gruening signs the Anti-discrimination Act, the first such legislation
passed in the United States and its possessions.
b oarding school for Native high school students opens at Mt.
Alaska Command is established, the first united command of the
U.S. staffed jointly by Army, Air Force, and Navy officers.
First Alaska Native land claims suit, filed by Tlingit and Haida
people, introduced in U.S. Court Claims.
vote to abolish fish traps by a 10 to 1 margin.
well drilled near Eureka on Glenn Highway marks the beginning
of Alaska's modern oil history; first plywood operations begin
in Juneau; first big Alaskan pulp mill opens at Ketchikan. First
Alaska television broadcast in KENI, Anchorage.
elect delegates to constitutional convention.
Convention opens at the University of Alaska.
voters adopt the Alaska constitution; two senators and one representative
are sent to Washington under the Tennessee Plan to push for
measure passes; President Eisenhower signs statehood bill.
proclaimed; state constitution in effect; Sitka pulp mill opens;
U.S. Court of Claims issues judgment favoring Tlingit and Haida
claims to Southeast Alaska lands.
Friday Earthquake destroys $311 million of property in over
a dozen towns around Prince Wiliam Sound. With a magnitude of
9.2, this is the largest recorded earthquake in the United States.
Federation of Natives organized. Interior Secretary Stewart
Udall imposes a "land freeze" to protect Native use
and occupancy of Alaska lands.
Fairbanks Flood causes millions of dollars of damage and forces
thousands out of their homes.
is pumped from a well at Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope; Governor
Hickel establishes the "Alaska Land Claims Task Force"
that recommends a 40-million acre land settlement for Alaska
Slope Oil lease sale brings $900 million for the state; first
live satellite telecast takes place in Alaska.
Native Claims Settlement Act signed into law, giving Natives
rights to about a 10th of Alaska's land and nearly $1 billion
dollars and creating Native village and regional corporations.
Alaska Constitution amended to prohibit sexual discrimination.
passes the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act; salmon fisheries
limited entry program becomes law.
voters approve capitol move initiative.
Legislature appropriates fund to initiate purchase and installation
of 100 satellite earth stations for establishment of statewide
satellite communications network.
gas pipeline proposals filed; Alaska voters pick Willow as new
capitol site; voters approve constitutional amendment establishing
Alaska Permanent Fund to receive "at least 25 percent"
of all state oil royalties and related income.
Pipeline completed from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.
Legislature increases Permanent Fund share of oil revenues from
25 to 50 percent; repeals Alaska personal income tax; establishes
Alaska Dividend Fund to distribute Permanent Fund earnings to
Alaska residents; Congress passes Alaska National Interests
Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
voters repeal law relocating capitol to Willow and establish
state spending limit; the first Permanent Fund dividends are
time zone changed, except for the westernmost Aleutian Islands,
all of Alaska is consolidated under Alaska Standard Time, one
hour west of Pacific Standard time; crab stocks are so low that
most commercial seasons are cancelled, the drinking age is raised
from 18 to 21 by the Legislature.
purchases Alaska Railroad from the federal government, declining
oil prices cause budget problems.
of oil drops below $10 per barrel, causing Alaska oil revenues
to plummet; the Legislature passes a new bill governing subsistence
hunting and fishing.
economic doldrums from oil prices continue to affect the state,
causing many to lose their jobs and leave, banks to foreclose
on property, and businesses to go bankrupt; a new military build-up
in Alaska begins when the first troops of the new Sixth Infantry
Division begin arriving in Fairbanks.
efforts to rescue two whales caught by ice off Barrow captures
world-wide attention; the state's economic woes continue and
Anchorage loses 30,000 in population; the Soviets allow a one-day
visit of a group of Alaskans to the Siberian port city of Provideniya;
Anchorage loses its bid to host the 1994 Olympic Winter Games
to Lillenhammer, Norway.
Exxon Valdez, a 987-foot oil tanker carrying 53 million
gallons of North Slope crude, grounds on Bligh Reef spilling
11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound; the Permanent
Fund passes the $10 billion mark; Alaska Supreme Court throws
out Alaska's rural preference subsistence law.
Alaska Legislature meets in special session and struggles unsuccessfully
to resolve the subsistence issue; federal authorities take over
subsistence management on federal lands; oil prices temporarily
double after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; Walter Hickel makes
a political comeback by joining lieutenant governor candidate
Jack Coghill on the Alaska Independence Party ticket and winning
the gubernatorial race; Congress sets aside more Southeast Alaska
forest as wilderness by passing the Tongass Reform Act.
State of Alaska, the U.S. Justice Department and Exxon reach
a $1 billion settlement resulting from the Exxon Valdez
oil spill which is rejected by the U.S. District Court. An amended
settlement earmarking more money for restoration work in Price
William Sound wins judicial approval. Congress effectively closes
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development; Bristol
Bay fishermen strike over low salmon prices; the Hickel administration
and the Legislature are unable to resolve the subsistence issue.
recession is felt as the oil industry retrenches with major
job losses; the Anchorage Times, once Alaska's largest newspaper,
folds; reapportionment challenges delay primaries by two weeks;
Spurr Volcano erupts three times, one blast dumping ash on Anchorage;
Juneau's Hillary Lindh wins Olympic Silver Medal in downhill
skiing; 50th anniversary of the Alaska Highway.
Legislature passes largest capital works appropriation in ten
years; a court mandated new reapportionment scheme redraws boundaries
of some election districts; Greens Creek Mine near Juneau closes
due to low silver, zinc, lead prices; Sitka Pulp Mill announces
indefinate suspension of mill operations, affecting 400 workers;
Alaska Independence Party Chairman, Joe Vogler, mysteriously
federal trial results in a $5 billion dollar verdict in the
Exxon Valdez case; Alaska's Tommy Moe brings home the Olympic
gold medal in downhill skiing; Joe Vogler's murdered body is
discovered buried off Chena Hot Springs Road near Fairbanks,
(Vogler was a libertarian advocate for Alaska's cessation from
the union); voters defeat the latest proposal to move the Alaska
capital away from Juneau; the mental health lands case is decided
after years of controversy in the Alaska Supreme Court, determining
how the state could use the 1 million acres originally dedicated
to funding Alaska's mental health programs.
fisherman take out their frustrations over the inconclusive
U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty talks on an Alaskan ferry;
Mark Air, a brief rival to Alaska Airlines, faces bankruptcy
while ticket holders are stranded and employees all over the
state are laid off; the $267 million Healy Clean Coal Project
is launched with a substantial backing by the U.S. Department
of Energy; villagers from Alatna return to a newly rebuilt village
following fall floods that washed out several Koyukuk communities.
State of Alaska loses a case regarding the Alaska Statehood
Act and the federal government's management of federal lands
in Alaska; U.S. Congress lifts the ban on exportation of Alaska
winds and seas caused a Japanese refrigerator ship to go aground
near Unalaska, spilling approximately 39,000 gallons of fuel;
the Fairbanks Municipal Utilities System was sold to three private
companies, ending 50 years of public utility ownership; MAPCO,
owner of Alaska's largest oil refinery, is bought by Williams
Co. Inc.; Canadian fishermen in Prince Rupert blockade an Alaskan
ferry for three days in protest of Alaskan salmon-fishing practices
and ferry service to Prince Rupert is disrupted for 19 weeks.
unemployment rate is at a record low at 5.8%; the moose is adopted
as Alaska's official state land mammal; in May, an estimated
4,000 people marched in Anchorage to show solidarity and to
bring attention to Native Rights issues; the new Seward SeaLife
Center is the western hemisphere's first cold-water marine research
facility and includes two floors of public displays; the U.S.
Supreme Court in case No. 96-1577 ruled that the approximately
1.8 million acres owned by the Native Village of Venetie Tribal
Government is not "Indian country."
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog
Race's founder, Joe Redington, Sr., passes away; Edgar Nollner,
Sr., the last surviving musher of the 1925 diphtheria serum
run to Nome which inspired the Iditarod, passes away; the
state's top two oil producers, BP and ARCO, announces their
intent to merge; the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks
receives $1 million from the Bill Gates Foundation to help
with their expansion project. In Anchorage, the Alaska Native
Heritage Center, a 26-acre cultural park, opens its doors
and is expected to attract 130,000 visitors a year.
In September, a proposal to
spend Alaska Permanent Fund earnings on state government was
soundly rejected by 83% of voters; the state's largest financial
institution, the National Bank of Alaska, announced its sale
to Wells, Fargo & Co.; derailment of two Alaska Railroad
trains in the Susitna River Valley in November and December
resulted in jet fuel spills totaling approximately 100,000
gallons and cleanup was hampered by extreme weather and remote
Along with the rest of the world,
Alaskans welcomed the year 2000 with fanfare and firecrackers.
Tragedy struck on January 31 when an Alaska Airlines jet crashed
near Los Angeles, killing 88 people including Morris Thompson,
Interior Alaska Native leader and former BIA director; snowslides
stranded dozens of people in Girdwood for nearly a week and
avalanche conditions in the area were among the worst in decades;
in April, after more than a year of anti-trust investigations
by the FTC, an agreement was signed for BP to take over all
of ARCO except ARCO Alaska, which was purchased by Phillips
After more than 40 years, the
bodies of 133 people who died at the Mt. Edgecumbe TB hospital
and were buried in a WWII bunker were returned to their Native
villages for burial; Elmer Rasmuson, Anchorage banker and
Alaskan philanthropist, died in December; census 2000 results
show a state population of 626,932, an increase of 14% from
1990; Alaska becomes the 47th most populated state and the
number of square miles per person drops from 1 to approximately