- Communities to Explore
- Getting Around
- Sample Itineraries
- Community Contacts
- Travel Media/Press Help
- Free Vacation Guides
- Southeast Trails
Culture & Heritage
Sitka is a historic blend of cultures dating back centuries and continues today. The Kiksadi Clan of the Tlingit Indians had lived in and around Sitka centuries before the Russians or Americans ever set foot on the island’s rocky shores. The Tlingits called their settlement “Shee Atika”, roughly translates as “settlement on the outside of Shee” (“Shee” being the Tlingit name of Baranof Island).
The Tlingits thrived undisturbed on their island until 1799, when the Russians arrived. Soon after, Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company, established a fort a few miles north of the present day Sitka. The Tlingits grew immediately hostile, not wanting allegiance to the Tzar and slave labor to the Russian’s fur trade company. Their suspicions turned to violence and the Tlingits attacked the Russian outpost in 1802, killing nearly all of the Russians and their Aleut slaves.
Two years later, Baranof retaliated. The island Natives fought gallantly, but were out-gunned and exited silently into the night. The Russians renamed the settlement Novo Archangelsk (New Archangel). Russian Orthodox Church clergy soon took up residency and fortress-like structures systematically replaced clan houses atop a shoreside hill, later known as Castle Hill.
The fur-trade flourished and became very profitable for the Russian-American Company. By mid-century, over-hunting diminished the sea otters and the Russians’ interest in the new world. In 1867, the Russians sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million in a transfer ceremony in Sitka on October 18th of that year.