Reading #12

Theme 1: Ethnic Identity

Period: American (1867 - present)

The following information was excerpted from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for St. George Island, 1986.

The end of the Russian period marked the beginning of a process of Americanization. Upon taking possession after the sale in 1867 and the winning of the lease in 1870, the Alaska Commercial Company, with the support of the Special Treasury Agent, destroyed barabaras on both islands, as they were considered unhealthy. The Company furnished material for above-ground American style frame houses lined with tar paper, painted, and furnished with a wood stove and outhouse. The streets were laid out [in a grid]. In 1881 the Agent reported the "last building erected under Russia demolished."

Administrators, whether private or public, . . . were responsible for housing and capital goods on the islands. In this way, conditions for the people and of the buildings that they lived and worked in were dependent upon the seal industry. A boom in the industry was accompanied by a building boom on both islands. . . . In 1933 the Agent reported electricity installed in Native homes.

. . . Island life changed throughout the 1950s. Islanders became active in the Alaska Native Brotherhood and worked to alleviate their disparate condition. . . . Their relationships with the federal administrators changed as the Aleut people assumed more control of their political and private lives. The Special Agent for the islands made his last entry into his daily log in 1960. A unique era in American labor history came to an end.

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