Culture and Arts Alaska

Culture and Arts Alaska

Tribal sovereignty

U.S. federal law recognizes specific rights to the natives grouped together as tribes. This is how the Navajo, the Apaches, the Cherokees and all the Native American peoples of the continental United States can exercise real authority in their reserves in various fields: social assistance, police, financial policy, etc. It is this de facto autonomy that has enabled them to create casinos.

The peoples of Alaska benefit from this federal recognition and should therefore be allowed to exercise some sovereignty as well - a possibility recognized by both federal and state courts.

But the governors have always opposed it. This is particularly the case with Sarah Palin, who has consistently tried to reduce the rights of indigenous people to hunt and fish, campaigning for the development of commercial and “sport” hunting and fishing. Her fight against tribal sovereignty even resulted in opposition to any form of language assistance for some indigenous peoples during the elections - for which she was condemned in the summer of 2008 by a panel of federal judges.


The first 8 Russian Orthodox missionaries landed in Alaska in 1794, almost half a century after Vitus Bering's expedition to the region and after more than 9 months of travel. What they found horrified them: Native people abused and exploited by trappers and settlers, who kidnapped women and children to force men to hunt for them.

They founded a mission on Kodiak Island and obtained, 2 years later, the creation of a bishopric. But in 1800, Baranov, civil administrator of the colony, placed the monks under house arrest, prohibiting them from any contact with the population ... The presence of the Orthodox Church nevertheless gradually asserted itself among the indigenous peoples and particularly the Aleuts.

A certain Innocent, bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurils and the Aleutians in 1840, translated the Bible into several languages. Raised to the rank of archbishop 10 years later, he never stopped exploring the region and spreading the good word. Canonized in 1977, he is one of the 5 Orthodox saints of Alaska, alongside Herman and Juvenaly, among the first missionaries, Peter the Aleut and Jacob Netsvetov, two indigenous consecrated priests.

Today there are 97 Orthodox parishes in Alaska for several thousand faithful (the exact number is difficult to determine). Most are of Aleute, Yup'ik or Tlingit origin.

Inuit legend

An Inuit legend says that at the beginning of time, land, hills and stones fell from the sky. Once the world was formed, men appeared in their turn, emerging from between the earth, on which they learned to feed. Children were born and men grew old - extremely old, loss of sight, the ability to move, and even the ability to lie down. For in those days people did not die. This strange world lived in an eternal night. The day never dawned there. It is only if the men had light in their houses.

Over time, men multiplied. They even became so numerous that they encumbered the earth with their existence. One day of dawn, a giant flood from the sea swept the world. Many drowned.
Two elderly women commented on the event: “Let’s spare ourselves death, even though we must continue to live in the shadows. Another contradicts her: "No, let's accept death but live in the light. With these words, the day dawned.
Since then, man is no longer condemned to eat the earth. He can move, hunt in the great outdoors. For with death appeared the sun, the moon and the stars. It is souls, in fact, who after death join the firmament and shine there eternally.

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