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Alaska: History And Modern Characteristics Of The 49th State

1972 words - 8 pages

Alaska, with a population of 626,932, became the 49th state of the United States on June 30, 1958, when the Alaska Statehood Act was approved. Juneau, the capital of Alaska, has a population of 31,262 and is the only state capital that has to be reached by air or sea. In 1959, Alaska adopted the territorial flag as the official flag. The blue field symbolizes the sky, sea, mountain lakes and wildflowers, the eight golden stars represent the constellation Ursa Major and Alaska as the most northern state of the U.S. The Alaska state flower, Forget-me-not, was adopted in 1917, the state tree, the Sitka Spruce, was adopted in 1962, while the state bird, the Ptarmigan was adopted in 1955. The state motto, “North to the Future,” was created to show the world that Alaska is a land that can help individuals build a free, promising future. Alaska is often referred to as “The Last Frontier” because of the many opportunities that are offered to individuals in the state and the various regions that are inhabited by small populations. It is also called the “Land of the Midnight Sun” because the sun shines almost the entire day during a typical summer in Alaska.
History books of Alaska reveal that the first inhabitants of Alaska were of Asian ancestry. The people were separated into three classifications: honorables, including respectable whalers and elders of society, common people and slaves. When an honorable individual passed away, they were mummified and a slave was executed in their honor. Much of Alaska’s documented history acknowledges European settlement and colonization, mainly from Russian explorers. A Danish man working for the Russians, Vitus Bering, and Alexei Chirikov discovered the greater part of Alaska and the Aleutian islands in 1741. Their catastrophic voyage to Alaska resulted in the gathering of some on the world’s fines otter skins. Alaska then became a Russian station for hunting and trading. When Russian explorers arrived, Alaska was already inhabited by Alaskan Natives. Catherine II of Russia encouraged the hunters to treat the natives with sympathy, but their mission to find more furs in Alaska became obsessive and they would not allow anyone to get in their way. This led to continuous disputes between the indigenous people of Alaska and the Russians. King Charles the III of Spain was not thrilled about the expansion of Russia. From 1774 to 1791, the king ordered several expeditions to Alaska but eventually decided that the Russian and Native Alaskans were threatening enemies and deserted his attempt to gain land of Alaska’s territory for Spain. At this time, the British tried assert ownership of Alaska. Captain James Cook and his crew set out to investigate the Alaskan land in 1778, and they were astonished when learning about the many uses of sea otters. Upon their return to England, the explorers exposed their fur coats made from animals they killed, and the British made a decision to make more explorations of Alaska. After...

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