Alaska Day

Alaska Day (Russian: День Аляски) is a legal holiday in the U.S. state of Alaska, observed on October 18. It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States, which occurred on Friday, October 18, 1867.

Background

On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for the sum of $7.2 million. It was not until October of that year that the commissioners arrived in Sitka and the formal transfer was arranged. The formal flag-raising took place at Fort Sitka on October 18, 1867. The original ceremony included 250 United States Army troops, who marched to the governor's house at "Castle Hill". Here the Russian soldiers lowered the Russian flag and the U.S. flag was raised.

The official account of the affair as presented by General Lovell Rousseau to Secretary of State William H. Seward:

Due to the 11-hour time difference between Sitka and St. Petersburg, and the fact that Russia still used the Julian calendar, the date is sometimes given as Saturday, October 7.

Observance

Alaska's territorial legislature declared Alaska Day a holiday in 1917. It is a paid holiday for state employees. The official celebration is held in Sitka, where schools release students early, many businesses close for the day, and events such as a parade and reenactment of the flag raising are held.

It should not be confused with Seward's Day, the last Monday in March, which commemorates the signing of the treaty for the Alaska Purchase in which the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867.

Protest

Alaska Day is protested by some Alaska Native people who view the holiday as an celebration of the violence used to take their land away. Native organizers assert that the land was not Russia's to sell in the first place, therefore the sale of the land to the U.S. is illegitimate.

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Alaska Day, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.