By Walter R. Borneman
The historical past of Alaska is stuffed with tales of latest land and new riches -- and ever current are new individuals with competing perspectives over how those assets may be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion name of "Gold!"; infantrymen combating out a decisive bankruptcy in global warfare; oil wildcatters trying to find a special type of mineral wealth; and continuously on the center of those disputes is the query of ways the land is for use and through whom.Major subject matters contain Alaska Natives, exploration and hiking, mining rushes, railroads and aviation, army operations, and the clash pitting conservation opposed to improvement, with a focus at the present debate over oil drilling in ANWR.Some wish Alaska to stay static, others are within the leading edge of switch. Alaska: Saga of a daring Land exhibits that there aren't any effortless solutions on both sides and that Alaska will consistently be crossing the following frontier.
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Additional resources for Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land--From Russian Fur Traders to the Gold Rush, Extraordinary Railroads, World War II, the Oil Boom, and the Fight Over ANWR
Thus, you describe the puzzle in broad terms, all the while striving not to obscure the details of its individual pieces. But if such a broad view is necessary, why is this entire sweep of events—this big picture of Alaska’s history—important, or even insightful? Alaska’s historic themes are surprisingly consistent and reoccurring: new land; new people; new riches—and ever-present competing views over their use. These themes have been played out by many different personalities, events, and responses over the years, but to better appreciate their place in the puzzle—to get one’s hands around the whole story and pick up the puzzle—requires a step backward.
They are easily seen from the waters of the Inside Passage. The most famous are the Mendenhall Glacier north of Juneau, flowing from the Juneau Icefield, and the LeConte Glacier east of Petersburg, flowing from the Stikine Icefield. The Mendenhall is one of thirty-eight glaciers flowing from the 1,500-square-mile (larger than Rhode Island) Juneau Icefield. In about twelve miles, the Mendenhall drops from an elevation of 4,500 feet at the icefield to 54 feet above sea level at its terminus at Mendenhall Lake.
The domain of the Aleuts is the Alaska Peninsula and the necklace of islands stretching westward toward Asia. ” They are famous for their consummate skill in paddling a baidarka (a Siberian word for a form of kayak) and righting it when capsized, even in the most frigid of waters. Working their way westward from the peninsula, the Aleuts may have colonized some of the Aleutian Islands as long as 10,000 years ago. By the time the Russians arrived, the Aleuts inhabited all of the major islands of the chain, although their population was concentrated among the eastern islands and the peninsula where they had access to salmon and caribou.