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Southeast Alaska: Human Habitation

The earliest evidence of human habitation in southeastern Alaska goes back nearly 12,000 years ago. Arrowheads, wooden tools and other artifacts were discovered from the period that is known as the Paleomarine tradition. During the Paleomarine tradition, tools such as mining drills, double-handled draw saws, axes, and fish cutting blades were widely used. These artifacts are often found in historic archeological sites. Archeologists believe that some of the tools, such as microblades, can indicate cultural similarities between native groups. The technology also helps trace routes of people’s immigrations. Technology was spreading throughout North America, especially metal tools. Southeast Alaska also made metal, but made it without heat. This was called cold hammering. Tools and technologies are created in order for people to adapt and invent to their life surroundings. Much later, other countries noticed the easy ability to make tools and rapidly spreading technology in Alaska. The earliest historic breakthrough for Alaska was in 1743, when Russians found Alaska and marked it as their territory. The word spread that there was gold found in Canada, suddenly people all over the world became interested in the gold, which was found in northern Canada/southeastern Alaska. Alexander Baranov was the Russian governor of Alaska; he was responsible for the establishment of Sitka. In 1967 Alaska was bought by the United States. Gold mining and fish canning brought it most of the town’s money, World War 2 brought in an extensive amount of money for the city of Sitka. The Navy constructed an air base on Japonski Island. Sitka became the capital of Alaska Territory until 1906. The capital re-located to Juneau. In 1880 two men marked a 160 acre area which soon became a mining camp. Within a year, the mining camp became a small town. The town was initially called Harrisburg, after Richard Harris but later changed to Rockwell. In 1881 it was renamed again-Juneau, after Joe Juneau. In 1906 Sitka had a massive decrease in whaling and fur trade making city not as important, moving the capital to Juneau. Just a little northwest of Juneau is a city named Skagway. Skagway was inhabited by Tlingit people from prehistoric times. In 1896, gold was found in the Klondike and thousands of miners came into the new town hoping to find gold 500 miles away in Canada. By 1898 Skagway’s population soared because of the gold rush and the city became popular around Alaska. Skagway seemed to become an actual city by 1900, newspapers came out and more people came to the city. Haines is located north of Juneau. The Chilkat group of Tlingit Indians asked missionaries to come to the area to help construct the city. Later in 1904, a U.S. Army installation was constructed south of Haines called Fort William Seward. After war the fort was deactivated and became into one municipality with Haines. ` Southeast Alaska has an interesting historical background. The region where the capital is located and the place where small cities were founded due to wars. What separates southeast Alaska from the rest of Alaska is the unique culture that was developed from prehistoric times.



Bibliography 1. Alaskool.org, “Alaska Regional Profiles.” 26 June 2007. <http://www.alaskool.org/resources/regional/profile_index.htm>.

2. Heaton, Timothy H. “Southeast Alaska.” Google. <http://www.usd.edu/esci/alaska/> 12 June 2007.

3. "Juneau, Alaska." Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. 18 Jun 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneau,_Alaska .

4. Schoenberg, Ken. “Prehistory of Southeast Alaska.” Google. <http://www.nps.gov/akso/akarc/seast.htm> 12 June 2007.

5. Person, Roger W.. "Historical and Archaeoloigical Landmarks." 1998. Alaska Geographic. 21 Jun 2008