AUGUST 14, 1784


In the mid-1700s, Russian fur traders sought a foothold in the Aleutian Islands and Kodiak Archipelago. Expeditions, however, met with Aleut and Alutiiq resistance.  In 1784, trader Grigori Shelikhov sent boats with cannons and men to Refuge Rock where villagers sought safety atop the fortress-like rock attached to Sitkalidak Island.  Shelikhov demanded the Natives turn over hostages and trade otter furs.  After days of negotiations, the Russians attacked using artillery and muskets against spears and arrows.  Of roughly 2,000 villagers at the refuge, as many as 500 were killed.  Others drowned or threw themselves off the seaside cliffs.  Because the Czar prohibited violence against Native people, except in cases of self-defense, Shelikhov insisted in his reports that he had been badly outnumbered and was attacked first.  Ship physician and eyewitness Miron Britiukov, however, debunked that account in his report to the Czar.  The attack was seen as the end of the Alutiiq of Kodiak Island.  

Source:  John Enders (1992), “Archaeologist May Have Found Site Of Alaska Massacre,” The Seattle Times, 8/16/1992.  Retrieved 7/10/2019,
Lithograph:  Author unknown.  Date: 1802.  From Gavriil Sarychev's (1802) Atlas.  Alaska and Polar Regions Archives, Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.  Public Domain in Russia under article 1281 of Book IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation No. 230-FZ of December 18, 2006 and article 6 of Law No. 231-FZ of the Russian Federation of December 18, 2006 (the Implementation Act for Book IV of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).  Public domain in U.S. because it was in public domain in Russia on the URAA date of 1/1/1996.  Likely Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 100 years or less.

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