AWA’UQ (REFUGE ROCK) MASSACRE—THE WOUNDED KNEE OF ALASKA
In the mid-1700s, Russian fur traders sought a foothold in the Aleutian Islands and Kodiak Archipelago, however, expeditions 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, http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19920816&slug=1507631 Lithograph: Author unknown, 1802. Public Domain, Source: Gavriil Sarychev's (1802) Atlas. Courtesy of Alaska and Polar Regions Archives, Rasmuson library, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.