(Eskimo Alakshak, Mainland; in popular belief Great Land). Area: figures vary from 566,432 to 586,412 sq. mi. Probably sighted 1732; effectively discovered by Russ. Vitus Jonassen Bering 1741. Became center of fur trade under Russ. control; transferred to U. S. October 18, 1867; became state January 3, 1959. Ethnic groups: about one sixth of the pop. is Eskimo and Indian (the later Tlingit and Tinneh), both native races; Aleuts, another native race, live in the Aleutian Islands; most full-blooded Russians left 1867. Natives of Can. and the Scand. countries predominate in the for.-born white pop. During and since WW II the pop. increased rapidly, mainly because of defense construction, coming of statehood, and oil discoveries.
The Russ. Orthodox Ch. and (184267) the Swed. Luth. Ch. were active during the Russ. occupation. RCs began work 1779, Presbs. 1877/78 (see Jackson, Sheldon); Am. Episc. work began 1885; Quakers and Meths. began work 1889, the Norw. Syn. 1894. The Mo. Syn. began work 1926, discontinued in the early 1930s, resumed 1937. OS
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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