A snapshot by the United States Department of the Interior, published 1951
excerpts from Mid-Century Alaska
United States Department of the Interior
Office of Territories
Alaska's Surface Features
Air Transportation in Alaska, 1920-1980
Alaska NativesA Department of Interior View, 1950
EducationTerritorial Schools, 1950, According to the Department of the Interior
Schools Maintained by Alaska Native Service
Reindeer1950 U.S. Department of the Interior Estimate
Scientific Study of the Arctic, 1950
Map of Alaska Territory
Alaska is the largest geopolitical entity under the American flag. It is one-fifth the size of continental United States; a land with half a million square miles of unbelievably rich countryrich in varied resourcesand inhabited by comparatively few people. A part of the United States, it is American in language, customs, and politics.
Alaska offers opportunitiesopportunities for homesteaders, businessmen, professional people, and workmen. More and more people each year are making their permanent homes in the Territory, investing their capital, and taking part in the development of the country's natural resources. These resources, many of which are becoming scarce in more industrialized areas, need to be developed to a greater extent. Millions of new citizens are sought to aid in developing Alaska's forest, oil, and mineral resources; to fabricate timber, furs, and nonmetallic minerals; to cultivate lands; to build roads, airports, and homes; to develop hydroelectric power potentialities; and to build a tourist industry. The Territory's development is moving forward, but much remains to be done. We need Alaskait is vital to our national defenseand we need its wealth of natural resources. This great country should continue to exemplify the American idea already set forth in every State of the Union by our unprecedented march across the continent.
Alaska's Surface Features
Alaska is the largest peninsula of the North American continent. Surrounded on three sides by water, it is connected with Canada by a land base 600 miles wide along the 141st meridian between the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. Southeastern Alaska is not a part of this peninsula, but is, geographically, the coastal section of northern British Columbia.
Alaska is approximately 586,400 square miles (375,296,000 acres) in area, including rivers, lakes, etc., or one-fifth the size of the United States. The actual land area is 571,000 square miles.
Physiographically, Alaska may be divided into three distinct major regions, varying in geologic origin and surface expression. The three sections are the Pacific Mountain, Central Plateau, and Arctic Slope regions.
Pacific Mountain Region
The Pacific Mountain region includes southeastern, south-central, and southwestern Alaska. Geologically it is a continuation of the continental Pacific Mountain system which can be traced through British Columbia into Alaska. At this point, the axis changes and sends two spurs in a southwesterly direction. One spur forms the Chugach and Kenai Mountains and reappears in Kodiak Island. The main spur forms the crescent of the Alaska Range and stretches over the Alaska Peninsula into the Aleutian Islands. The valleys between and within these parallel ranges are filled by the sea or form broad valleys and intermittent basins, such as Matanuska Valley and the Copper River Basin.
The southeastern coastal strip, consisting of many islands and a strip of narrow mainland, is sometimes called the Panhandle. It is separated from Canada by mountains that rise sharply from the water's edge to heights of 9,000 feet, or more, through which run deep fiordssea inlets with high mountain walls. This region has many glaciers and extensive spruce, hemlock, and cedar forests. Juneau, the capital city; Sitka, formerly the Russian capital; and Ketchikan, the largest salmon packing center in the world, are in this section. One of the world's great mines, the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine, now inactive, is in Juneau. Other important towns are Wrangell, Petersburg, Skagway, and Haines. Haines is an important seaport town which has direct access to interior Alaska by motor road.
The south-central coastline resembles the southeast. North and parallel to the coast extends the 150-mile-wide Alaska Range. Numerous mineral deposits exist in this range and many of the mountains are more than 15,000 feet highMount McKinley is 20,300 feet. Two great routes to the interior, The Alaska Railroad from Seward and Whittier through Anchorage to Fairbanks and the Richardson Highway from Valdez to Fairbanks, are in this section.
In the southwestern section for hundreds of miles along the long narrow Alaska Peninsula and the chain of Aleutian Islands are volcanoes, glaciers, and slopes with moss, grass, and bush. Trees are nonexistent. The principal settlements are Kodiak Island and Unalaska Island. Kodiak Island is the home of the Kodiak bear (great Alaskan brown bear), largest carnivorous animal. Pribilof Islands, about 200 miles north of Unalaska, is the breeding ground of the Alaska fur seal. The Aleutians are like a chain of stepping stones leading westward toward the Komandorski Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Soviet Russian Siberia. This peculiar configuration gives Alaska an unusually wide spread in longitude and latitude, between the parallels of 51º and 72º North, and between the meridians of 130º West and 173º East. Bristol Bay, a great salmon-fishing area, is in this region. The lower reaches of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers are rich in fur and contain deposits of gold, platinum, antimony, and other minerals, only a few of which have been worked since World War II. Much of the inland region is wild and little explored. The largest communities are Bethel, Dillingham, and Naknek.
Central Plateau Region
North of the crescent formed by the Alaska Range lies a broad expanse of plateaus and lowlands, dotted here and there by mountain groups and drained by several large rivers, including the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Porcupine, Tanana, and Koyukuk. These rivers and other streams flow in wide valleys choked with sedimentation brought down from the higher lands north and south of the plateau region. This central plateau continues east into the Yukon Territory and west to the Bering Sea. The subsoil over most of this area is frozen the entire year, but some of the thawed top soil is relatively fertile. Tundra and wooded areas contain fur animals, game birds, and large numbers of big gamemoose, caribou, mountain sheep, and black bear. Fairbanks, principal town of the interior, is the center of the gold placer mining industry and has a number of potential lode gold producers.
The Seward Peninsula is a major gold-mining area. Nome, the principal town, was the scene of the gold rush of the early 1900's. In winter, when the sea is frozen, the inhabitants rely for transportation on dogteams, planes, and tractors.
Bering Strait, which separates Alaska from Siberia, is the channel between the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The Strait is 50 miles wide. Big Diomede Island in the Strait is part of the Soviet Union, but Little Diomede Island, 2.4 miles east, is part of the United States.
Arctic Slope Region
The land sloping gradually from the northern foothills of the Brooks Range, which extends east-west over the northern part of Alaska, to the Arctic Ocean constitutes the Arctic Slope. Some of the mountains are separated by wide valleys, but in places the range is extremely rugged. A number of mountain groups are in the areathe DeLong, Schwatka, Endicott, Baird, and Davidson Mountains. Tundra country, consisting of large areas of rolling uplands and coastal plains, stretches northward from the Brooks Range. The principal settlements along the Arctic coast are the villages of Kotzebue, Wainwright, and Barrow. Most of the inhabitants of these villages are Eskimos.
One of the great rivers of North America is the Yukon, which rises in British Columbia, flows through part of the Yukon Territory, and traverses the entire width of Alaska. Second in size to the Yukon is the Kuskokwim, which rises on the western slope of the Alaska Range and drains the southwestern portion of the central region. Both rivers empty into the Bering Sea.
Several large rivers, the Unuk, Stikine, Taki, and Alsek, also rise in Canada and flow through Alaska into the Pacific. The Copper, Matanuska, and Susitna Rivers flow into the North Pacific Ocean.
The Kobuk, Noatak, and Colville Rivers are the principal streams emptying into Arctic waters.
Air Transportation in Alaska, 1920-1980
Pioneering the air routes of Alaska was accomplished in 1920 by the Army when four military planes made a round trip between New York and Nome. Four years later Lt. Carl Ben Eielson, under contract with the Post Office Department, made the first eight air mail flights to the Territory. Subsequently, regular passenger, freight, and air-mail services were established between Alaska and the United States and between certain points in Alaska.
Several airlines offer services to and within Alaska. The Northwest Airlines operates daily air coach and deluxe services between Seattle and Anchorage and between Minneapolis and Anchorage on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Pan American World Airways provides services from Seattle to Ketchikan and Juneau 6 days a week, to Fairbanks daily, and to Nome weekly. Daily flights are conducted from Juneau to Anchorage by the Pacific Northern Airlines.
In the Territory, transportation by air is a necessity, as other means of transportation are limited, and the services provided by several airlines are used as most people in the States use automobiles and buses. A number of scheduled flights are in operation throughout the interior. From Anchorage, Alaska Airlines provides daily DC-3 service to Fairbanks, DC-3 and DC-4 service to McGrath and Nome, and connecting service from each of these points to surrounding areas. This daily service is offered south to Seward and to points along the western shore of the Kenai Peninsula such as Kenai, Kasilof, Ninilchik, and Homer and north to Talkeetna. From Nome, twice weekly service is available to Kotzebue and weekly service to Deering, Candle, Solomon, Golovin, White Mountain, Council, Teller, Wales, Shishmaref, Koyuk, Haycock, Shaktolik, Egavik, Unalakleet, Kaltag, and Nulato. Service from Nome to Gambell is offered twice monthly. From McGrath, service is available three times weekly to such points as Flat, Holakachuk, Anvik, Shageluk, Holy Cross, Piamiut, Russian Mission, and Fortuna Ledge. From Fairbanks, weekly service is available to a number of points in the Forty mile area, such as Chicken, Franklin, Jack Wade, Elden Field, Boundary, and Eagle. Weekly service also is provided from Fairbanks to Livengood, Stevens Village, Beaver, Hodzana, Rooney Lake, Bettles, Wild Lake, Allatna, Wiseman, Chena Hot Springs, Palmer Creek, Eagle Creek, Porcupine, Circle Hot Springs, Central, Circle, and Fort Yukon.
The Alaska Airlines also has a twice weekly service between McGrath and Bethel where connections are available to Good News Bay, Platinum, Fortuna Ledge, Pitka's Point, Mountain Village, Akulurak, Alakanuk, Kwiguk, Hamilton, and St. Michael. On the main routesbetween Anchorage and Fairbanks, McGrath, Nome, Kotzebue, and BethelAlaska Airlines utilizes DC-3 and DC-4 equipment. To smaller points, so-called bush equipment is always available, in addition to scheduled flights, for service to the 112 points currently served by Alaska Airlines.
Other certificated services are available in interior Alaska. From Fairbanks, the Wien Alaska Airlines provides services to Beaver and Fort Yukon, three times weekly to Barrow, twice weekly to Tanana, Galena, Nome, and Kotzebue, and once weekly to Woodchopper and Eagle.
Northern Consolidated Airlines offers service three times weekly between Anchorage and King Salmon and four times weekly between Fairbanks, McGrath, and Bethel. Service also is available on a lower frequency basis to points in the Bethel area such as Eek, Quinhagak, Mumtrak, Platinum, Cape Newenham, Kwigillingok, Tununak, Mekoryuk, Hooper Bay, Cape Romanzof, Scammon Bay, Kwithluk, Akiachuk, Akiak, Tuluksak, Kalskag, Aniak, Napamute, Crooked Creek, Sleitmut, and Stony River. Similar flights are made from McGrath to Medfra with stops at Nicholai, Farewell, Takotna, and Ophir, from Fairbanks to Circle Springs, Circle, Fort Yukon, Beaver, Kokrines, Ruby, Poorman, Galena, Koyukuk, and Nulato, and from Naknek Base to Naknek, Koggiung, Igiugig, Clarks Point, Dillingham, Egegik, Ugashik, and Pilot Point.
Reeve Airlines serves the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. Christensen Air Service provides transportation between Anchorage and Seward. Service between Fairbanks and Tanana and intermediate points also is offered by the Lon Brennan Air Service.
Daily service is provided by Pacific Northern Airlines between Juneau, Yakutat, Cordova, and Anchorage where connections are available for flights to Kenai, Kasilof, Ninilchik, Homer, Iliamna, Naknek Airbase, Dillingham, and Kodiak. Cordova Air Service, operating from Cordova, offers service six times weekly between Cordova and Anchorage via Valdez and between Valdez and Chisana via Chitina, McCarthy, and May Creek. Service twice weekly is offered by the same company between Cordova, Tatitlek, Ellamar, Whittier, Nellie Juan, Chenaga, Oceanic, San Juan, Port Ashton, Chatham Strait, and La Touche.
In southeastern Alaska, proper Alaska Coastal Airlines provides service between Juneau and Ketchikan via Sitka, Petersburg, and Wrangell and between Juneau and Skagway via Haines. Ellis Airlines offers daily service between Ketchikan and Juneau via Wrangell and Petersburg and to Klawock, Craig, Hydaburg, and Annette.
Alaska NativesA Department of Interior View, 1950
Many Alaskans are aboriginesEskimos, Aleuts (pronounced Alleyoots), and Indians. Groups inhabiting four areas are: Eskimos of the north and northwest, Aleuts of the southwest, and Indians, Tlingit (pronounced Klink-et), Tsimshian, and Haida, of southeastern Alaska. A few of these people have retained their tribal traditions, but in most cases they have adopted modern ideas and living conditions and are awake to new opportunities. They serve in the Territorial Legislature and other government offices, the Unions, and the Chambers of Commerce and other organizations. They also hold responsible positions in mining, fishing, transportation, and other industries. In keeping with progressive educational and governmental ideals, equal opportunities exist in Alaska for all members of society.
Among the native people the most numerous is the Eskimo. They live along the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea and in the deltas of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. More than other natives, Eskimos have preserved their ancient customs, habits, and language. They are fur trappers and fishermen. They also engage in ivory carving and mining. In the early days, Eskimos lived chiefly on meat and fish, supplemented by a variety of native berries, edible plants (greens), and a few tuberous roots. Today, they have become accustomed to a modern diet.
During World War II many Eskimos served in the Army or Navy. Others worked on airfields or supplied meat to the armed forces. Eskimo women and children sewed winter clothing for soldiers and sailors and many Eskimo villages subscribed heavily to war bonds.
The Aleuts live in the Aleutian Islands, the Pribilofs, along the Alaska Peninsula, and on Kodiak Island. Over 500 resident Aleuts live on the Pribilof Islands and work in the government-administered sealing operations. They are closely related to the Eskimos, although there has been much interbreeding between these people and the whites, dating back to their first encounter with Russians. Aleuts are able seamen and clever fishermen. They have their own language and retain in part their traditions. An Aleut has deep respect for his religion, his graves, and the church in which he worships. His knowledge of local geography is reliable.
Approximately half of Alaska's Indians are Tlingits, a great race living on the islands and the broken coast of southeastern Alaska. The Tlingit country is noted for its tall, gaily-painted totem poles.
To a Tlingit, trees are friends. Throughout his history he has depended on them for his canoes, beams and rafters, the boxes which contain his family treasures, ceremonial hats and dancing masks, drums, shields and weapons, and totem poles. When the white man came, the Tlingits battled fiercely for their ancestral forests.
Although modern Tlingits have lost many of their former ways of living, they are still a fishing people. Many of them own and operate their own fishing boats, others work in southeastern canneries during the summer, supplementing such income with trapping and hunting in the fall and winter. Others carry on the traditions of their people by carving and woodworking. The famous Chilkat blankets are made by Tlingits (see Facts of Interest, page 145).
In the past, Tlingit people never remained rich for long. When one of them saved a number of blankets, which were used for money, he held a great feast, called a potlatch, at which he gave everything away. The more he beggared himself, the more honor he received. In reality, this was his manner of attaining social securityfor those who had received gifts from him were obligated to assist him in time of future need. This custom is almost extinct today, but the Tlingits continue to be good business people and occupy positions of importance in the economy and development of Alaska.
The Tsimshian Indians came from British Columbia, led by William Duncan, a missionary. They settled on Annette Island in southeastern Alaska in 1887. Most of them live in their model village of Metlakatla, which is quite successfully run, partially on a cooperative basis. Among the cooperative enterprises are a salmon cannery, including several fish traps; a water system; a community hall; an electric plant; and a sawmill. The individuals own their own fishing boats and operate the stores in the village. Two churches are in the village.
The Haida Indians came several generations ago from British Columbia to southeastern Alaska. They settled in the southern part of Prince of Wales Island where they built their wooden villages on beaches just above the high-water mark. Relatives of the Tlingits, they also carved totems, were grouped in clans, gave potlatches, and lived by fishing and hunting. They are noted for their fine slate carvings and the precise and delicate adornment of articles of wood, bone, and shell. Their mode of living now is much the same as the Tlingits with fishing and related enterprises contributing the major portion of their income.
The Athapascan Indians are thinly scattered in interior and southcentral Alaska. Most of them are poor and their villages are small. They live largely by fishing and trapping and are clever at making many useful and ornamental objects.
EducationTerritorial Schools, 1950, According to the Department of the Interior
The Territorial government administers a school system, for white and native students, composed of 88 schools (26 incorporated and 62 rural) and the University of Alaska. Direction and supervision of the public schools is under the Territorial Board of Education, with the Commissioner of Education at Juneau as the executive officer.
The Federal Government administers the schools in about 100 native villages where there are no Territorial schools. Administration is under the Alaska Native Service, which is the Alaska Branch of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, United States Department of the Interior. Where Territorial schools exist, the enrollment includes Eskimo, Indian, and Aleut pupils. Education of the native children is being transferred from Federal to Territorial jurisdiction as rapidly as conditions justify. To facilitate this transfer, Federal-owned school buildings and equipment are transferred to the Territory or to local communities, without charge, when Federal schools are transferred to Territorial administration.
Mission schools throughout the Territory provide educational opportunities for approximately 600 native children.
Sheldon Jackson High School and Junior College in Sitka, the oldest school in Alaska, is operated by the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. It was named in commemoration of Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian minister who went to Alaska in 1877 and became the first United States Commissioner of Education to the Territory. Originally a school for native children, this school now has become a junior college for all Alaskans. It is on the accredited list of the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools and follows as closely as possible the course of study prepared for the schools of Alaska by the Commissioner of Education. Further information may be obtained by writing The Registrar, Sheldon Jackson School, Sitka, Alaska.
General supervision and direction of the Territorial public schools vested in the Territorial Board of Education, which consists of 5 membersone from each of the 4 judicial districts and one at large, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Legislature. The Board prescribes rules and regulations for the general government of unincorporated schools, the certification of teachers, and other matters pertaining to the general welfare of the schools. The Commissioner of Education serves as executive officer of the Board and carries these rules and regulations into effect. In addition, he administers the school laws that prescribe certain duties to his office.
The two general classes of Territorial public schools are (1) schools within incorporated cities, independent school districts, and incorporated school districts, and (2) rural schools located outside incorporated cities and school districts.
Incorporated Cities School Districts
Every incorporated city constitutes a school district. The common council is given certain powers regarding buildings and funds, but when a school is established it is under supervision and control of a school board of three members elected to serve a 3-year term with one new member being elected each year.
All adults who are citizens of the United States or who have declared their intention to become such, and who are residents of the school district, are eligible to vote for school board members in the incorporated cities.
Applicants for teaching positions should write directly to the clerk of the school board of the city in which employment is desired.
Independent School Districts
Independent school districts are established by people of any incorporated city and its adjacent settlement or settlements; provided that such districts do not embrace more than 500 square miles. Each district has a school board of five members who have the exclusive management and control of school matters in the district, subject to Territorial school laws and regulations. The Board has the power to appoint from its number, or from the residents of the district, an assessor who places an assessed valuation on all real and personal property inside the city limits and that outside the city which is included in the school district. This assessment is made in accordance with the valuations of similar property within the city.
All citizens of the United States who are 21 years of age or over, bona fide residents of Alaska continually during the entire year immediately preceding the election, residents in the school district continually for 30 days preceding the election, and able to read and write the English language in accordance with an act of the United States Congress, are qualified to vote at elections in the independent school districts; provided, however, that the requirements of this section as to ability to read and write shall not apply to any person who is incapacitated from complying herewith by reasons of a physical disability alone.
Applications for teaching positions should be directed to the clerk of the school board of the city in which employment is desired.
Incorporated School Districts
Incorporated school districts are established in any town, village, or settlement outside the limits of an incorporated town or independent school district that has a population of 100 or more, and where at least 30 children between the ages of 6 and 17 years reside; provided that such school districts do not embrace more than 500 square miles. These districts are established by the judge of the district court upon petition of not less than 30 citizens of the United States, or persons who have declared their intentions to become such, over the age of 21 years, who are residents of the proposed school district. Schools in incorporated districts are managed by a school board of 5 persons who are elected in a manner similar to board members in incorporated cities and have similar powers, but with the additional powers to levy and collect taxes upon real and personal property in the school district. These taxes are used exclusively for the maintenance of schools within the district.
Applications for teaching positions should be directed to the clerk of the school board of the town in which employment is desired.
Schools outside the limits of incorporated cities, independent school districts, and incorporated school districts are established by the Commissioner of Education with the consent of the Territorial Board of Education. The affairs of these schools are administered through the office of the Commissioner of Education.
Applications for teaching positions in these schools should be directed to the Office of the Commissioner of Education, Juneau, Alaska.
The public high schools at Anchorage, Cordova, Douglas, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Nome, Palmer, Petersburg, Seward, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell, the rural high school at Wasilla, the Sheldon Jackson School at Sitka, and the Mt. Edgecumbe Vocational School (Alaska Native Service) are on the accredited list of the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools. High schools accredited by the Territorial Department of Education include those located at Haines, Nenana, and Valdez, as well as those maintained in connection with a number of rural schools.
The Territorial public schools are supported largely by appropriations from the Territorial treasurer. The Territory reimburses the incorporated schools from 75 to 85 percent of their operating expenses, depending upon the enrollment. Schools outside incorporated districts are supported entirely by appropriations made by the Legislature; these funds are distributed through the Office of the Commissioner of Education.
Teachers and Salaries
Teachers in the Territorial public schools compare favorably in training and experience with those in the States. All teachers in public schools must be citizens of the United States and must meet the certification requirements. Teachers who have completed 3 years (90 semester or 135 quarter hours) in an accredited normal school, college, or university and shall have completed at least 16 semester or 24 quarter hours in education may be issued a certificate valid for 3 years. A teacher who has received a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college and who has completed at least 16 semester or 24 quarter hours in education may be issued a certificate for 5 years. A superintendent of schools having 4 or more teachers may be granted an administrative certificate provided he meets training and experience requirements.
The salaries of administrators range from $3,970 to $6,575. Many of the city schools pay their superintendents greatly in excess of the minimum salaries required by law. A minimum salary law requires school boards to pay teachers a minimum of $3,300 in the first division; $3,540 in the third division; and $3,700 in the second and fourth divisions.
During 1949-50 the 62 rural and 26 incorporated schools employed 568 teachers who offered instruction to 13,909 pupils.
University of Alaska
The University of Alaska, one of the 69 land-grant colleges established by the United States Congress, is on a 2,250-acre tract at College Station, approximately 3 miles west of Fairbanks. College Station, at the foot of College Hill, is on the main line of The Alaska Railroad. Regular bus service is maintained between Fairbanks and the University.
The permanent buildings are the gymnasium, library, museum, power plant, post office, administrative offices, Geophysical Institute, faculty homes, and dormitories. The new Geophysical Institute, completed in 1950 at a cost of almost a million dollars, is Alaska's first earthquake-proof building. The purpose of this institute is to advance knowledge in the broad field of physics of the earth and to emphasize geophysics as it is related to the Arctic. Some of the finest facilities in the world will be available for studying the Arctic, the stratosphere and regions beyond.
The University of Alaska is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools and is approved for immigrant students under the Immigration Act of 1924. Entrance requirements are on a standard with those of leading universities elsewhere and military training is required of all men students during their first 2 years.
Regular 4-year courses are offered in agriculture, arts and letters, business administration, chemistry, education, civil engineering, general science, and home economics, all leading to the various bachelor's degrees. In civil, mining, and metallurgical engineering and in geology, students have an option of 4-year courses leading to bachelor's degrees, or 5-year courses leading to either bachelor's or professional degrees. A premedical course and 2 years of work in prenursing also are offered. Short courses are given to hundreds of persons each year throughout the Territory.
A Veterans-on-the-Farm Training Program provides training in agriculture for veterans who have followed or are preparing to follow the vocation of farming in Alaska. This is made possible under a contract between the Veterans Administration and the University, entered into each year on July 1.
Work in mining extension is carried on and is designed to give basic training in various phases of geology and mining as a service to those who are unable to take up resident study at the University.
Under a cooperative research program conducted by the University of Alaska and the United States Department of Agriculture, two students are designated each year to make studies of the mineralogy of Alaska soils.
Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service
The Extension Service of the University of Alaska was established in 1930 and performs an extremely important service to the people of the Territory. This Service assists men, women, and children in the home, on the land, and in improving living conditions generally. All parts of the Territory, rural communities as well as the larger towns, are reached with the Service's demonstrations which include 4-H Club work, home demonstration work, and agricultural subjects. Home demonstration offices are maintained at Fairbanks, Palmer, Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Petersburg.
Financial support is given the Extension Service by the Territory of Alaska and by the United States Department of Agriculture, cooperatively. The total annual budget is slightly over $100,000. Headquarters of the Service is on the campus of the University of Alaska at College.
Agencies cooperating with the Service are the United States Soil Conservation Service, United States Farm and Home Administration, Federal Land Office, United States Forest Service, Territorial Department of Agriculture, and other organizations interested in the development of farming and rural life.
Bulletins and informational material pertaining to agriculture and rural life in Alaska are furnished to interested persons. Special efforts are made to reach all homesteaders as soon as they take up work on the land.
Agricultural Experiment Station
The Agricultural Experiment Stations of the University of Alaska are at Fairbanks, Matanuska, and Petersburg. Under an agreement between the University and the Agricultural Research Administration of the United States Department of Agriculture, the facilities of the Federal Experiment Station at Palmer and those of the University Experiment Stations are available jointly for a comprehensive research program in agriculture. This agreement is on the same basis as that now being carried out with other land-grant institutions.
Cooperative Wildlife Research
The University of Alaska, Alaska Game Commission, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wildlife Management Institute have combined their resources in a project to teach wildlife management and research. The main part of the research work is done by candidates for the master's degree at the University in wildlife management. A limited amount of financial help is available for well-qualified graduate students. For the time, young Alaskans will be able to secure training in handling this valuable renewable resource of the Territory.
Academic Year 1950
The graduating class in June 1950 was the largest in the history of the University of Alaska43 degrees were awarded. The largest previous graduating class was in 1941 when 33 degrees were given. Of the 43 degrees, 23 were Bachelor of Science degrees; 10 in the School of Mines; 7 in civil engineering; 3 in home economics; 2 in chemistry and 1 in the premedical curriculum. Eleven bachelor degrees were awarded in arts and letters, three in business administration, three in education, two in Bachelor of Agriculture, and one 5-year degree in Bachelor of Mining Engineering.
During the 1949-50 academic year a total of 1,481 students received instruction. Credit course students totaled 509 and noncredit course students totaled 972.
For further information, inquiries should be addressed, air mail, to the Registrar, University of Alaska, College, Alaska.
Schools Maintained by Alaska Native Service
An estimated 10,500 native children are of school age. Approximately 2,950 of these children attend Territorial schools. The Alaska Native Service maintains about 100 community day schools in native villages throughout the Territory. Many of the children come to these schools without knowledge of the English language or familiarity with nonnative cultural customs. In addition to a curriculum, similar to that of the Territorial public schools, emphasis is placed on teaching beginners English and familiarizing them with American ways of life. These schools are outside incorporated towns, mostly in the Aleutian, interior, and Arctic regions. The enrollment is approximately 4,200.
The Alaska Native Service schools maintain a nutrition program which has contributed materially to improved child health. Food, supplemental to the native diet, is served daily for breakfast or lunch and the resulting general health improvement is at least a partial protection against tuberculosis.
Due to isolation and small population of Alaska villages, the Alaska Native Service day-school teachers necessarily perform many services not ordinarily considered part of a teacher's duties. Often they represent the Alaska Native Service or Territorial Department of Public Welfare in the administration of public relief, old-age assistance, and aid to dependent children. In a number of villages the school teacher serves as postmaster. In communities where native-owned cooperative stores are operated, the school teacher is called upon to assist the native storekeeper in establishing and maintaining an adequate accounting system for his business.
In isolated areas the teacher also serves as radiotelephone operator, as the Alaska Native Service maintains and operates radio transmitters in many of its schools where no other radio communication is available. All these stations communicate on regular schedule with the nearest Alaska Communication System station.
At times, the teacher is called upon to give first aid, assist the people during epidemics, and render many other kinds of service.
Because of the many and varied duties, isolation, and quarters limitations, husband and wife teams are given preference for employment. In a few two-teacher schools both husband and wife, if qualified, can be employed as teachers. As most of the schools are one-teacher schools, the husband or wife of the teacher is usually employed as an assistant at a salary about two-thirds of that paid the teacher.
Teachers for schools maintained by the Alaska Native Service are selected through civil service examinations and from registers maintained by the Civil Service Commission, Eleventh Regional Office, Seattle, Washington. Salaries start at $3,100 to which is added a 25 percent differential for foreign service. A bachelor's degree, with a minimum of 24 hours of specialization in education, is required for elementary teachers. Further information regarding examinations may be obtained from any first- or second-class United States Post Office or by writing the Area Director, Alaska Native Service, Juneau, Alaska.
In addition to the community day schools, the Alaska Native Service maintains three boarding schools. Two of these, White Mountain, 90 miles east of Nome, and Mt. Edgecumbe, near Sitka, are high schools, drawing enrollment from the entire Territory. Vocational and college preparatory courses are offered. Approximately 700 pupils are enrolled. Wrangell Institute, in southeastern Alaska, is an elementary boarding school with an enrollment-of about 200 dependent children from all parts of the Territory.
Reindeer1950 U.S. Department of the Interior Estimate
Reindeer, not classified as wildlife because they are a semidomesticated relative of the caribou, formed one of the earliest and most successful examples of stocking in Alaskan history. To provide a dependable source of meat supply for the Eskimos and other residents of northwestern Alaska, a total of 1,280 reindeer was brought from Siberia between 1891 and 1902. Reindeer breeding, however, has had its difficulties since they were first introduced. Under close supervision, the numbers increased rapidly in virgin feed areas until the number was estimated to be 500,000 to 600,000 in the early 1930's. Thereafter, the number decreased rapidly, due largely to the increase of depredation by wolves, over-grazing in certain areas, and lack of profitable markets for the products. Interest waned in reindeer breeding, which resulted in increased losses from wolves and, in some districts, losses from mixing with caribou herds.
As of June 30, 1950, the number of reindeer was estimated at slightly over 25,000 head, divided among 17 herds. Nine of the herds were owned individually by Eskimos; five were Government-owned; two were owned by associations of Eskimos; and one was a combination of Government- and association-owned deer. The present program is to get the deer into individual ownership as rapidly as qualified natives are ready to receive them.
Reindeer constitute the main economic resource in western and northern Alaska, as they furnish food, clothing, and bedding. Government herds range at Kotzebue, St. Michael, Nunivak Island, Atka Island, Umnak Island, and the Pribilof Islands. Reindeer in Alaska are under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Native Service and purchases of live reindeer for export must be approved in writing by that agency. Nonnatives are no longer permitted by law to own reindeer in the Territory.
Scientific Study of the Arctic, 1950
A nonprofit organization, the Arctic Institute of North America, was founded in 1945 to study the problems common to Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland. Within the North American Arctic the national boundaries are largely artificial and most scientific problems are common to the entire region. Economy of effort and wider discussion of questions are made possible by treating the region as a whole. All environmental factors must be studied in order to increase man's adaptation to the Arctic and detailed scientific knowledge in every field is needed for proper evaluation of the future of the North.
The organization is in close liaison with government agencies, universities, scientific societies, and other groups in Canada and the United States concerned with Arctic problems. Outside North America, technical relations are maintained as closely as possible with Danish organizations interested in Greenland and with kindred polar groups in other countries. The Institute is incorporated in Canada by act of Parliament and in the United States under the laws of the State of New York. Individuals drawn from many fields of achievement in Canada, the United States, and Greenland are elected for 3-year terms and serve on the board of governors in a personal capacity and not as representatives of agencies with which they may happen to be affiliated. The headquarters of the Institute is in Montreal, Canada, housed in a building provided by McGill University. In the United States a general office is at the American Geographical Society in New York and a research office is at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
The organization has the financial support of the National Research Councils of the United States and Canada and of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Although activities have been supported in part by government contracts for specific research tasks, the Arctic Institute must depend to a large degree upon private donations. Participation in this work through the medium of associate membership is invited. Interested persons may apply for associate membership by writing the Arctic Institute, care of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, or care of the American Geographical Society, New York.
Map of Alaska Territory: Click on Map for Larger View (222 k)