The history of Alaska dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period (around 14,000 BC), when Asiatic groups crossed the Bering land bridge into what is now western Alaska. At the time of European contact by the Russian explorers, the area was populated by Alaska Native groups. The name “Alaska” derives from the Aleut word Alaxsxaq, (an archaic spelling being Alyeska), meaning “mainland” (literally, “the object toward which the action of the sea is directed”).
In the 1890s, gold rushes in Alaska and the nearby Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912.
In 1942, two of the outer Aleutian Islands—Attu and Kiska—were occupied by the Japanese and their recovery for the U.S. became a matter of national pride. The construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities.
Alaska was granted statehood on January 3, 1959.
In 1964, the massive “Good Friday Earthquake” killed 131 people and leveled several villages.
The 1968 discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the 1977 completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline led to an oil boom. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Prince William Sound, spilling between 11 and 35 million US gallons (42,000 and 130,000 m³) of crude oil over 1,100 miles (1,600 km) of coastline. Today, the battle between philosophies of development and conservation is seen in the contentious debate over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
|History of Alaska|
|Russian America (1733–1867)|
|Department of Alaska (1867–1884)|
|District of Alaska (1884–1912)|
|Territory of Alaska (1912–1959)|
|State of Alaska (1959–present)|
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Famous quotes containing the word history:
“[Men say:] Dont you know that we are your natural protectors? But what is a woman afraid of on a lonely road after dark? The bears and wolves are all gone; there is nothing to be afraid of now but our natural protectors.”
—Frances A. Griffin, U.S. suffragist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4, ch. 19, by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper (1902)