MARCH 30, 1867

RUSSIA CEDES ALASKA TO THE UNITED STATES FOR $7.2MILLION—FURTHER DISENFRANCHISES NATIVE ALASKANS

Russia laid claim to Alaska’s coastlines in the 1770s where it forced the Unungan, or Aleut, people into slavery to hunt fur-bearing marine animals. Between conflict and disease, the Native population of about 100,000 in 1741 dropped to near 50,000 by 1867. When the U.S. took over, the nation was still engaged in its Indian Wars and, seeing Alaskan Natives as potential adversaries, made Alaska a military district. Article III of the Treaty of Cession classified Alaska Natives into “civilized groups,” to be regular U.S. citizens with no special relationship; and “uncivilized groups” subject to Federal Indian law. These classifications not only clouded the status of Alaska Native people, they deprived them of Aboriginal claims to land & resources, special services under the Federal government’s trust responsibility, and tribal status needed to operate tribal governments and justice systems. This situation did not begin to change until passage of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924 and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

Sources:
  William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, “There Are Two Versions of the Story of How the U.S. Purchased Alaska From Russia,“ SmithsonianMag.com, 3/29/2017.  Retrieved 7/8/2021, There Are Two Versions of the Story of How the U.S. Purchased Alaska From Russia | History | Smithsonian Magazine
Treaty concerning the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America by his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias to the United States of America: June 20, 1867.  Retrieved 7/8/2021, 
Avalon Project - Treaty concerning the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America by his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias to the United States of America : June 20, 1867 (yale.edu)
“Russians in Alaska and U.S. Purchase,” University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Retrieved 7/8/2021, Russians in Alaska and U.S. Purchase | Federal Indian Law for Alaska Tribes (uaf.edu)
Treaty: U.S. Government, 1867. Treaty concerning the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America by his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias to the United States of America: June 20, 1867. Public Domain.  Source: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875 (loc.gov)

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