Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land--From Russian Fur Traders to the by Walter R. Borneman

By Walter R. Borneman

The background of Alaska is full of tales of recent land and new riches -- and ever current are new individuals with competing perspectives over how those assets may be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion name of "Gold!"; squaddies fighting out a decisive bankruptcy in global warfare; oil wildcatters searching for a special type of mineral wealth; and constantly on the middle of those disputes is the query of ways the land is for use and by way of whom.Major topics comprise Alaska Natives, exploration and climbing, mining rushes, railroads and aviation, army operations, and the clash pitting conservation opposed to improvement, with a focus at the present debate over oil drilling in ANWR.Some wish Alaska to stay static, others are within the leading edge of swap. Alaska: Saga of a daring Land exhibits that there aren't any effortless solutions on both sides and that Alaska will continually be crossing the following frontier.

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Over time, Hubbard Glacier retreated more than thirty miles to uncover these bodies of water. Then in the spring of 1986, the Hubbard advanced to cut off Russell Fjord at the head of Disenchantment Bay. The glacier pushed a thick plug of mud, gravel, and boulders across the mouth of the fjord, and runoff from rain and glacial melt soon turned the fjord into a freshwater lake. Meanwhile, the ice continued to build an increasingly taller dam at its mouth. By early October, the “lake” was more than eighty feet above sea level.

Other than its gigantic mountains, the most striking features of the Alaska Range are the huge glaciers that flow from its spine. Warm moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Alaska drops most of its precipitation on the south side of the range, making the glaciers there considerably larger than those on the north side. The largest, the Kahiltna, is up to three miles wide and forty-five miles long. On the north side of the range, the glacial monarch is the Muldrow, flowing northeast from the upper slopes of Denali and fed by the Traleika and Brooks Glaciers.

The long hats and visors of the Aleut culture not only kept the frequent rain from one’s face but also protected the hunter’s eyes and reduced the glare of the seas. Sea otter furs were widely worn. The few extravagances were ceremonial cloaks adorned with the bright feathers of tufted puffins. The social structure of the village was fairly low-key. The Russians coined the term toyon for the individual who was the leader among the house group leaders. While there is some evidence of warfare with the Yup’ik Eskimos and small raiding parties going between villages to right some alleged wrong, feasting and dancing between villages was more the norm.

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