392 pages, 38 illustrations, maps
Alaska has not evolved in a vacuum. It has been part of larger stories: the movement of Native peoples and their contact and accommodation to Western culture, the spread of European political economy to the New World, and the expansion of American capitalism and culture.
Alaska, an American Colony focuses on Russian America and American Alaska, bringing the story of Alaska up to the present and exploring the continuing impact of Alaska Native claims settlements, the trans-Alaska pipeline, and the Alaska Lands Act. In contrast to the stereotype of Alaska as a place where rugged individualists triumph over the harsh environment, distinguished historian Stephen Haycox offers a less romantic, more complex history that emphasizes the broader national and international contexts of Alaska's past and the similarities between Alaska and the American West. Covering cultural, political, economic, and environmental history, Alaska: An American Colony also includes an overview of the region's geography and the anthropology of Alaska's Native peoples.
Throughout Alaska: An American Colony, Haycox stresses the continuing involvement of Alaska Natives in the state's economic, political, and social life and development. He also explores the power of myth in historical representations of Alaska and the controlling influence of national perceptions of the region.
"Having read every general history of Alaska from Bancroft to the present, and many studies of special Alaskan topics, and having lived in Alaska for more than forty years – I have only one comment: Alaska: An American Colony is by far the finest history of Alaska yet produced."
– Wallace M. Olson, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Alaska
"Deeply and methodically researched, carefully and accurately presented, Haycox's argument is clear: Alaska's people have been relatively powerless to determine their future, despite being the ones who best know Alaska. As debate continues over the exploitation of Alaska's remaining oilfields, this is a point of view that must be heard."
"This history of Alaska's development looks at the early postcontact period through Russian America and US territorial status and statehood [...] Interspersed with the concise direct narrative are illuminating insights into the role of outside forces on Alaska and the failure of all attempts to make this area self-sufficient within the contemporary economy."
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Stephen Haycox, professor of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage, is author of Frigid Embrace: Politics, Economics and Environment in Alaska and coeditor of An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past.