The Russians were interested in enlarging the lucrative fur trade. Officially, the purpose of the expedition was to determine if Asia and the Americas are joined.
Tlingit Indians of Southeastern Alaska
The Russians encountered the Tlingit in Alaska and lost two boats, each with ten men. According to oral tradition, the Tlingit lured the unsuspecting crew members with a bear skin and killed them. Unfortunately, the Russians also found sea otter which was valuable in the Chinese market. This led to the development of the Russian fur trade in the area. In , a Russian expedition made contact with the Tlingit under the leadership of Ilchak from the Chilcat River.
The Russians gave Ilchak a Russian crest in copper and a picture of the heir to the Russian throne. In , a group of Russians and Aleut under the leadership of Baron Baranof were attacked by the Tlingit.
The Tlingit were wearing armor made of wooden rods bound together with leather thongs. Their faces were protected by masks which represented different animals and gave a frightening appearance. They were wearing wooden hats. The Tlingit fought with lances, bows, and pointed daggers. Still, with the superiority of fire power, the Russians were victorious and the Tlingit fled leaving 12 dead behind. Two Russians and nine Aleuts were killed and 15 others in the Russian party were wounded. Many of the Tlingit chiefs made ceremonial visits to Baranof. They showed their friendliness toward the Russians by leaving some of their own children and relatives to live among the Russian colonists.
In , the Russians under the leadership of Alexander Baranov established a trading post at New Archangel now called Sitka in Tlingit territory.
The Russians relied on the Natives to supply them with food supplies. RAC was given the power to establish settlements in Alaska.
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They were to carry on agriculture and commerce, to spread the Greek faith, and to extend Russian territory. There were usually fewer than Russians in Alaska at any one given time.
Most of them lived in Sitka. With regard to the Native American populations, the Russians were ruthless and moved villages to different areas where they needed people to work. The peace between the Tlingit and the Russians did not last very long. In , the Tlingit rebelled against the Russians at the settlement of New Archangel. An estimated warriors armed with guns destroyed the fort, killing 20 Russians and Aleuts.
Elaine Ramos Abraham of Yakutat, a bilingual educator, made a profound impact in nursing, and served as the dean of Native Alaska studies at the University of Alaska. Nora Marks Dauenhauer of Juneau is a world renowned poet, author of short stories and scholar of Tlingit language and tradition.
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He pioneered the concept to bring together native and non-native cultural experts, students and scholars in a multi-disciplinary and cross cultural spirit. The approximately 30 clans are each lead by a clan leader and made up of houses that trace their genealogies to each other and to a founding ancestor. Today the traditional clan system is enjoying a strong resurgence in many communities. Local tribal governments recognized by the United States Government are present in Tlingit communities as well, and many of these were developed under the Indian Reorganization Act of Located in Juneau, Central Council originated 50 years ago in response to land disputes with the United States Government, and it continues to protect the legal rights of Native peoples in the present day.
Tlingit Arts Tlingit artistic traditions are strong and remain central in Tingit culture. Many Tlingit artists have devoted their lives to this work and are masters of their craft. Totem pole carving, wood carving, weaving, basketry, and metal working are popular, as are newer art forms in paper, fabric, glass and other media. Since , the company has gained revenues from timber harvesting and currently owns , acres of surface estate. It is a native nonprofit organization for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska. Celebration: Celebration is a festival of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes arranged every two years by the Sealaska Heritage Institute.