By Walter R. Borneman
The heritage of Alaska is full of tales of recent land and new riches -- and ever current are new individuals with competing perspectives over how those assets could be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion name of "Gold!"; infantrymen fighting out a decisive bankruptcy in international struggle; oil wildcatters searching for a unique type of mineral wealth; and continuously on the middle of those disputes is the query of the way the land is for use and by way of 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 forefront of swap. Alaska: Saga of a daring Land indicates that there are not any effortless solutions on each side and that Alaska will constantly be crossing the following frontier.
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Extra info 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
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.
The warm Japanese current in the North Pacific keeps the southeast downright balmy in comparison to the interior. Cool summers with occasional days in the sixties or seventies blend into winters where temperatures rarely fall below twenty degrees along the Inside Passage. ) It is a wet cold, however, and rain and clouds are the norm. Parts of southeast Alaska get upwards of 200 inches of rainfall per year. ” queries of cruise-ship tourists disembarking under rainy skies. ” The Aleutians and the Alaska Peninsula are foggy and wet, too, but not nearly as warm as the southeast.
Dogs served as pack animals but apparently weren’t put in harness pulling sleds until only a century or two before the Europeans arrived. Unlike many Alaska Natives, the Inupiat did not have a matrilineal family organization. Rather, kinship was determined bilaterally with relatives on both sides being of equal importance. Within this family tree, kinship was very important, however, and there was a genuine distrust of anyone not somehow related to the extended family. ” Each of the feuding parties took turns singing songs that sought to set the record straight and belittle their opponent in the process.