"Sitka ~ Tlingit, Russian & American Melting Pot" Top 5 Page for this destination Sitka by starship
Sitka Travel Guide: 174 reviews and 278 photos
On our second visit to Sitka in July, 2006, I was able to see more of Sitka than I did on our first visit there. Some of this was due to the fact that we came ashore in Sitka where it was easy to see some new sights, but were still within walking distance of the historic area.
Of the several ports of call we were to make on the second of our three Alaska cruises, the place I most wanted to see was Sitka. Although the day we arrived was misty with overcast skies, it wasn't enough to dampen my enthusiasm for sightseeing. Sitka is a relatively small town and one where you can see alot on your own if you're willing or able to do some walking. I found the people there very warm and friendly. Sitka really felt like "hometown," were there is a routine of everyday life and you know everyone.
A Brief Hisitory~*The history of Sitka is an interesting one. The island on which the present-day Sitka is nestled on is called Baranof Island, so named for Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company. The island was originally inhabited by Tlingit Indians' Kiksadi Clan. The Tlingits had made the island their home for thousands of years and they called this settlement "Shee" and they called themselves "Shee Atika" meaning "people on the outside of Shee." Thus the name, Sitka, is a contraction of the Tlingit words.
History has it that the Tlingits lived on "Shee" for thousands of year in harmony with the wilderness and wildlife until the Russians arrived in 1799, led by Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company. The Tlingits soon became hostile about the invasion of their land, and had rightly suspected that "submission to the Russians would mean allegiance to the Tzar and slave labor to the fur trade company." In an effort to save their way of life, the Tlingits subsequently attacked the Russian outpost in 1802, killing virtually all of the Russians and their Aleut slaves. Retaliation was not swift. It was not until 2 years later that Baranof himself returned to route the Tlingits because they were out-gunned, and so the Tlingits retreated and were pushed out of the settlement area. The Russians renamed the settlement New Archangel!
The Russian-American Company fur-trading business flourished until mid-century when over-harvesting of wildlife cut into the profitability of the business. The Russians soon lost interest after decimating the fur-bearing animal population and sold Alaska to the U.S. for the enormous sum $7.2 million dollars in 1867. The transfer ceremony took place in October, 1867, in Sitka.
Although Sitka today is considered a non-Native community, it remains the home of the Tlingits, Haidas, Eskimos, and Aleut peoples. Only limited Russian influences remain in the form of St. Michael's Cathedral and in art & architecture. These influences give color to the local scene and only add to the rather homespun atmosphere in Sitka. As you can see from the postcard picturing one of the beautiful harbors and some of the local fishing fleet, fishing & fish processing is a significant part of the diversified economy in Sitka, with tourism, government, transportation, retail & healthcare services being the other major factors.
You see here Sitka's Crescent Harbor & Marina which is probably one of the more distinctive sights when you arrive in Sitka. It is just off of the downtown historic area, and where the Crescent Harbor Visitors' Dock is located as well. Just beside the harbor is an open, grassy area with a small playground for children or a place to picnic on a sunny day. In this picture you will notice Mt. Edgecomb in the background. The snow-topped volcano is amazingly beautiful, particularly on a clear and sunny day.
- Pros:Friendly, patriotic, a close community feeling!
- Cons:Maybe overcast a little too often.
- In a nutshell:Need more time to explore this interesting place!
Only a short distance from Castle Hill, we came upon the the "Old Russian Block House," located on an overgrown field... more travel advice
Located across from Crescent Harbor, the colorful Russian Bishop's House stands as it has since 1842. This building is... more travel advice
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