Alaska History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Alaska History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Alaska history

Alaska's modern history is very short; it was not discovered by the developed world until halfway through the 18th century. However, the indigenous peoples of Alaska have been here for quite some time.

The history of Alaska dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period (around 14,000 BC), when Siberian groups crossed the Bering land bridge into what is now western Alaska. At the time of European contact by the Russian explorers, the area was populated by Alaska Native groups. The name "Alaska"derives from the Aleut word Alaxsxaq (also spelled Alyeska), meaning "mainland" (literally, "the object toward which the action of the sea is directed")

16th Century Alaska History Timeline

1578 - Cossack Chieftain Yermak Timofief was on an expedition in central Russia when he heard word of rich sable and valuable furs in the east. The journeys across the steppes marked the beginning of Russia's conquest eastward.

17th Century Alaska History Timeline

1639 - Cossack horsemen came over the eastern mountain range in Siberia, and continued to the shore of the Okhotsk Sea. Once there, they built the first Russian Village, facing east, across the Pacific.

18th Century Alaska History Timeline

1711 - Russian traders learn of a "Great Land" to the east.

1725 - Peter the Great of Russia commissioned a Danish sea captain, Vitus Bering, to explore the Northwest coast of Alaska. This feat is credited with the "official" discovery by Russia and the first reliable information on the land. Bering established Russia's claim to Northwestern North America.

1728 - Vitus Bering sails through the Bering Strait.

1733 - Bering's second expedition, with George Wilhelm Steller aboard, the first naturalist to visit Alaska.

1741 - Alexei Chirikof, with Bering expedition, sights land on July 15; the Europeans had found Alaska.

1742 - First scientific report on the North Pacific fur seal.

1743 - Concentrated hunting of sea otter by Russia begins.

1774 - Juan Perez ordered by Spain to explore west coast; discovers Prince of Wales Island, Dixon Sound.

1776 - Captain James Cook expedition to search for Northwest Passage.

1778 - While searching for the elusive Northwest Passage, British Explorer Captain James Cook explored the waterway that downtown Anchorage now borders, Cook Inlet.

1725 - Cook reaches King Island, Norton Sound, Unalaska.

1784 - Grigorii Shelikov establishes first white settlement at Three Saints Bay, Kodiak.

1786 - Gerassin Pribilof discovers the rookeries on the islands now know as the Pribilofs.

1791 - George Vancouver leaves England to explore the coast; Alejandro Malaspina explores the northwest coast for Spain.

1792 - Catherine II grants a monopoly of furs in Alaska to Grigorii Shelikov.

1794 - Baranov builds first vessel in northwestern America at Voskres-senski on Kenai.

1795 - The first Russian Orthodox Church established in Kodiak.

1799 - Alexander Baranov establishes Russian post known today as Old Sitka; trade charter grants exclusive trading rights to the Russian American Company.

19th Century Alaska History Timeline

1802 - Russian fort at Old Sitka destroyed by Tlingits.

1804 - Russians return to Sitka and attack Kiksadi fort on Indian River. Russians lose the battle, but Natives are forced to flee. Baranov re-establishes trading post.

1805 - Yurii Lisianski sails to Canton with the first Russian cargo of furs to be sent directly to China.

1821 - No foreigners allowed in Russian-American waters, except at regular ports of call.

1824 - Russians begin exploration of mainland that leads to discovery of Nushagak, Kuskokwim, Yukon, and Koyokuk Rivers.

1834 - Father Veniaminov moves to Sitka; consecrated Bishop Innokenty in 1840.

1835 - Russian mission is established near Knik, across the inlet from present-day Anchorage.

1840 - Russian Orthodox Diocese formed; Bishop Innokenty Veniaminov given permission to use Native languages in the liturgy.

1841 - Edward de Stoeckl assigned to the secretariat of the Russian legation in the US

1847 - Fort Yukon established.

1848 - Cathedral of St. Michael dedicated at New Archangel (Sitka).

1853 - Russian explorer-trappers find oil seeps in Cook Inlet.

1857 - Coal mining begins at Coal Harbor on the Kenai Peninsula.

1859 - De Stoeckl returns to US from St. Petersburg with authority to negotiate the sale of Alaska. Alaska became a state in 1959.

1861 - Gold discovered on Stikine River near Telegraph Creek.

1865 - Western Union Telegraph Company prepares to put telegraph line across Alaska and Siberia.

Purchase from Russia

1867 - Financial struggles force Russia to sell Russian-America to the United States. Negotiated by US Secretary of State William Seward, the treaty buys what is now Alaska for $7.2 million, or about 2 cents an acre. Alaska's value was not appreciated by the American masses at the time, calling it "Seward's folly." ; Pribilof Islands placed under jurisdiction of Secretary of Treasury. Fur seal population, stabilized under Russian rule, declines rapidly.

1868 - Alaska designated as the Department of Alaska under Brevet Major General Jeff C. Davis, US Army.

1869 - The Sitka Times, first newspaper in Alaska, published.

1872 - Gold discovered near Sitka and in British Columbia.

1874 - George Halt said to be the first white man to cross the Chilkoot Pass in search for gold.

1876 - Gold discovered south of Juneau at Windham Bay.

1877 - US troops withdrawn from Alaska.

1878 -

  • School opens at Sitka, to become Sheldon Jackson Junior College.
  • First canneries in Alaska established at Klawock and Sitka.

1880 - Richard Harris and Joseph Juneau, with the aid of local clan leader Kowee, discover gold on Gastineau; Juneau is founded.

1881 - Parris Lode claim staked and by 1885 is the most prominent mine in Alaska: Treadwell Mine.

1882 -

  • First commercial herring fishing begins at Killisnoo;
  • first two central Alaska salmon canneries built.
  • US Navy bombs, then burns Tlingit village of Angoon.

1884 - Congress passes Organic Act. $15,000 appropriated to educate Indian children.

1885 - Dr. C. H. Townsend suggest introduction of reindeer into Alaska. Sheldon Jackson appointed General Agent for Education in Alaska.

1887 - Father William Duncan and Tsimshian followers found Metlakatla on Annette Island.

1888 -

  • Boundary survey started by Dr. W. H. Dall of the US and Dr. George Dawson of Canada.
  • Cries of "Gold!" echo through the region when prospectors hit pay dirt at Crow Creek near Girdwood, just 40 miles/64 km south of what today is downtown Anchorage. More than 60,000 Americans traveled north to make their fortune. This is the first of many "boom and bust" eras for Anchorage and Alaska.

1890 - Large corporate salmon canneries begin to appear.

1890 - Dr. Sheldon Jackson explores Arctic Coast; brings reindeer husbandry into Alaska.

1891 - First oil claims staked in Cook Inlet area.

1892 Afognak Reserve established, beginning the Alaskan Forest Service System.

1894 - Gold discovery on Mastadon Creek; founding of Circle City.

1896 - Dawson City founded at mouth of Klondike River; gold discovered on Bonanza Creek.

1897-1900 - Klondike gold rush.

1897 First shipment of fresh halibut sent south from Juneau.

1898 -

  • Skagway is largest city in Alaska
  • Work starts on White Pass and Yukon Railroad
  • Congress appropriates money for telegraph from Seattle to Sitka
  • Nome gold rush begins.

1899 - Local government organized in Nome.

20th Century Alaska History Timeline

1900 -

  • Anchorage experienced rapid growth in the 1900s. In 1912, Alaska becomes a US Territory. The census lists Alaska's population at 29,500 Eskimos, Indians and Aleuts; 4,300 "Caucasian Alaskans" and 26,000 Cheechakos (newcomers).
  • Civil Code for Alaska divides state into three judicial districts, with judges at Sitka, Eagle, and St. Michael; moves capital to Juneau. White Pass railroad completed. US Congress passes act to establish Washington-Cable (WAMCATS) that later becomes the Alaska Communications System (ACS).

1902 -

  • President Theodore Roosevelt establishes Tongass National Forest
  • E.T. Barnette and local miners name their settlement Fairbanks.

1904 - Last great Tlingit potlatch held in Sitka. Submarine cables laid from Seattle to Sitka, and from Sitka to Valdez, linking Alaska to "outside".

1905 - Tanana railroad built; telegraph links Fairbanks and Valdez; Alaska Road Commission established under Army jurisdiction.

1906 - Alaska authorized to send vote less delegate to Congress. Governor's Office moved from Sitka to Juneau.

1907 -

  • Gold discovered at Ruby; Richardson trail established
  • Chugach National Forest, largest US forest, created by presidential proclamation.

1908 - First cold storage plant built at Ketchikan.

1911 -

  • International agreement between US, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and Japan controls fur seal fisheries
  • Sea otters placed under complete protection
  • Copper River and Northwestern Railroad begins service to Kennecott Copper Mine.

1912 -

  • Territorial status for Alaska provides for Legislature
  • Alaska Native Brotherhood organizes in Southeast
  • Mount Katmai explodes, forming Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

1913 -

  • First Alaska Territorial Legislature convenes
  • First law passed grants women voting rights.

1914 - Congress authorizes the construction of the Alaska Railroad, clearing the way for the only railroad in history which would be owned and operated by the US government. Surveying begins for Alaska Railroad; City of Anchorage born as construction campsite.

1915 -

  • President Woodrow Wilson selects the railroad's route that will run between the Port of Seward through the coal fields of the Interior to the gold claims near Fairbanks. What is now Anchorage is picked as its headquarters. Thousands of job seekers and adventurers pour into the area, living in a tent city on the banks of Ship Creek.
  • Alaska Native Sisterhood holds first convention in Sitka.
  • The "Great Anchorage Lot Sale," a land auction that will shape the future of the city, is held. A month later, the town formalizes its name when voters go to the polls. Voters pick Alaska City but the federal government decides to retain the existing title: Anchorage.

1916 - First bill for Alaska statehood introduced in Congress. Alaskans vote in favor of prohibition by a 2 to 1 margin.

1917 - Treadwell Mine complex caves in.

1918 - The first train from Seward steams into Anchorage, marking the completion of the southern half of the railroad line.

1920 - After lengthy negotiations, Anchorage citizens vote to incorporate. Six days later, Leopold David is elected first mayor of the city.

1922 -

  • Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines opens.
  • Native voting rights established through a court case.

1923 - President Warren G. Harding drives in the golden spike at Nenana, signaling the completion of the Alaska Railroad.

1924 -

  • Congress extends citizenship to all Indians in the United States;
  • Tlingit William Paul, Sr. is first Native elected to Alaska Legislature.
  • Start of airmail delivery to Alaska.

1928 - Court case resolves right of Native children to attend public school.

1929 - US Navy begins 5-year survey to map parts of Alaska. Alaska Native Brotherhood convention at Haines resolves to pursue land claims settlement in Southeast Alaska.

1932 - Radio telephone communications established in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Nome.

1935 - Matanuska Valley Project established. Nine hundred Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine workers go on a strike that lasts 40 days and ends in violence. - The Jurisdictional Act of June, 1935 allows the Tlingit and Haida Indians to pursue land claims in US Court of Claims.

1936 -

  • The Indian Reorganization Act of 1935 amended to include Alaska
  • Nell Scott of Seldovia becomes the first woman elected to the Territorial Legislature.

1940 - Anchorage is still a small, sleepy town but its strategic position attracts military interest. The first soldiers arrive to build an army base and air field, which become Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base, bringing rapid growth to Anchorage.

1942 - Japanese invade Alaska's Aleutian Islands. As part of the defense of the West Coast, the Alaska Highway is built in the amazingly short time of eight months and 12 days, linking Anchorage with the rest of the nation. Anchorage enters the war years with a population of 7,724 and emerges with 43,314 residents.

1943 -

  • January, 1943 - US convoy of 70 ships moved to Aleutian theater.
  • January 12, 1943 - Army forces occupy Amchitka, Aleutian Islands.
  • January 30, 1943 - Naval Station, Akutan Harbor, Fox Island, Alaska, is established.
  • February 18, 1943 - Two cruisers and four destroyers bombard Japanese installations at Holtz Bay, and Chichagof Harbor, Attu, Aleutian Islands.
  • February 24, 1943 - Naval Air Facility, Amchitka, Alaska, is established.
  • March 1, 1943 - Naval Auxiliary Air Facility, Annette Island, Alaska, is established.
  • March 26, 1943 - Battle of the Komandorski Islands
  • March 27, 1943 - Japanese convoy to reinforce Aleutian; encoutered enemy fleet and turned back.
  • April 26, 1943 - Task group of 3 cruiser and 6 destroyers bombards Japanese installations at Attu, Aleutian Islands.
  • May 10, 1943 - US troops invade Attu in the Aleutian Islands.
  • May 15, 1943 - Naval Air Station, Adak, Aleutian Islands, is established.
  • May 31, 1943 - Japanese end their occupation of the Aleutian Islands as the US completes the capture of Attu.
  • June 8, 1943 - Naval Air Facility, Attu, Aleutian Islands, is established.
  • June 29, 1943 - Naval Auxiliary Air Facility, Shemya, Alaska, is established.
  • July 14, 1943 - Destroyers bombard Kiska, Aleutian Islands. Naval Operating Base, Adak, Aleutian Islands, is established.
  • July 22, 1943 - Naval task force consisting of 2 battleships, 5 cruisers, and 9 destroyers bombard Kiska area, Aleutian Islands.
  • July 28, 1943 - Japanese evacuate Kiska undetected by Allies.
  • August 1, 1943 - Army aircraft initiate daily bombings of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
  • August 2, 1943 - Naval task groups consisting of 2 battleships, 5 cruisers, and 9 destroyers bombard Kiska, Aleutian Islands. Kiska is bombarded 10 times between this date and 15 August.
  • August 15, 1943 - Naval task force under Commander North Pacific Force lands United States Army and Canadian troops at Kiska, Aleutian Islands. Kiska is found to have been evacuated by the Japanese.
  • August 22, 1943 - Allied forces declare Kiska is deserted by Japanese forces.
  • December 21, 1943 - Naval aircraft from Attu, Aleutian Islands, bomb Paramushiro- Shimushu area, Kurile Islands.

1944 - Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine shuts down. Oil and Gas Exploration begins.

1945 - Governor Gruening signs the Anti-Discrimination Act, the first such legislation passed in the United States and its possessions since post-Civil War.

1946 - Boarding school for Native high school students opens at Mt. Edgecombe.

1947 -

  • Alaska Command established; first unified command of the US staffed by Army, Air Force, and Navy officers.
  • First Alaska Native land claims suit, filed by Tlingit and Haida people, introduced in US Court of Claims.

1948 - Alaskans vote to abolish fish traps by a 10 to 1 margin.

1953 - Oil well drilled near Eureka on Glenn Highway marks the beginning of Alaska's modern oil history; first plywood operations begin at Juneau; first big Alaskan pulp mill opens at Ketchikan. First Alaskan television broadcast by KENI, Anchorage.

1955 - Alaskans elect delegates to constitutional convention.

1955 - Constitutional Convention opens at University of Alaska.

1956 - Territorial voters adopt the Alaska Constitution; send two senators and one representative to Washington under the Tennessee Plan.

1958 - Statehood measure passes; President Eisenhower signs statehood bill.


1959 -

  • Statehood proclaimed
  • State constitution in effect
  • Sitka pulp mill opens
  • US Court of Claims issues judgment favoring Tlingit and Haida claims to Southeast Alaska lands.

1964 - Good Friday earthquake.

1966 - Alaska Federation of Natives organized. Interior Secretary Udall imposes a "land freeze" to protect Native use and occupancy of Alaska lands.

1967 - Fairbanks flood.

1968 - Oil pumped from a well at Prudhoe Bay on North Slope. Governor Hickel establishes Alaska Lands Claims Task Force that recommends a 40 million acre land settlement for Alaska Natives.

1969 -

  • North Slope Oil lease sale brings $900 million
  • First live satellite telecast in Alaska.

1971 -

  • Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 USC 1601-1624) - Public Law 92-203, approved and transfers ownership of 44 million acres of land to newly established Native corporations.
  • Mt. Edgecumbe - Wrangell Parent School Board established.
  • BIA's first pre-school programs for two to three year-olds.
  • Administration of program funding at agency level established.
  • Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) becomes law.
  • Alaska State-Operated School System: Alaska State Legislature establishes the Alaska State Operated School System as a new system as an independent agency and transfers operational responsibility form Rural and On-Base schools from the Department of Education to this new entity.

1972 - Alaska Constitution amended to prohibit sexual discrimination.

1973 -

  • Congress passes the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act
  • Salmon fisheries limited entry program becomes law.

1974 - Alaska voters approve capital move initiative.

1975 - Alaska Legislature appropriates funds to initiate purchase and installation of 100 satellite earth stations for establishment of statewide satellite communications network.

1976 -

  • Natural gas pipeline proposals filed
  • Alaska voters pick Willow as new capital site
  • Voters approve constitutional amendment establishing Alaska Permanent Fund to receive "at least 25 percent" of all state oil revenues and related income.

1977 -

  • February 28: The Permanent Fund receives its first deposit of dedicated oil revenues: $734,000.
  • Construction on the pipeline is completed, and the first oil arrives through the pipeline in Valdez.
  • The Trans-Alaska Pipeline: A barrel of crude oil takes 5.04 days to flow from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez through the trans-Alaska pipeline at 6.62 mph. If the pipeline were full, it would hold 9 million barrels. One barrel equals 42 gallons.

1980 -

  • Alaska Legislature increases Permanent Fund share of oil revenues from 25 to 50 percent; repeals Alaska personal income tax;
  • establishes Alaska Dividend Fund to distribute Permanent Fund earnings to Alaska residents.
  • Congress passes Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

1982 -

  • Time zones shift to include all Alaska, except western-most Aleutian Islands, in one zone: Alaska Standard Time.
  • Alaska State Boards of Fisheries and Game Jointly adopt a regulation adding the rural residency standard to the state's definition of "subsistence uses" Solomon Gulch hydroelectric project comes on-line in Valdez, the first of four hydroelectric projects later to be known as the "Four Dam Pool."
  • State revenues peak at $4,108,400,000 after OPEC fixes oil price at $34/barrel.
  • Alaska legislature enacts inflation-proofing to protect purchasing power of Permanent Fund principal. First Permanent Fund Dividend check is distributed: $1,000.
  • Alaska voters repeal law relocating capital to Willow and establish state spending limit.

1983 -

  • Drinking age is raised from 18 to 21 by the Legislature.
  • Time zone shift: all Alaska. except westernmost Aleutians Islands, move to Alaska Standard Time, one hour west of Pacific Standard time
  • Crab stocks so low that most commercial seasons are cancelled

1985 -

  • State purchases Alaska Railroad from the federal government
  • Declining oil prices cause budget problems.

1986 -

  • Price of oil drops below $10 per barrel, causing Alaska oil revenues to plummet
  • Legislature passes a new bill governing subsistence hunting and fishing.

1987 -

  • Economic doldrums from oil prices continue to affect the state, causing many to lose their jobs and leave, banks to foreclose on property, and businesses to go bankrupt
  • New military build-up in Alaska begins when the first troops of the new Sixth Infantry Division begin to arrive in Fairbanks.

1988 -

  • International efforts to rescue two whales caught by ice off Barrow captures world-wide attention
  • State's economic woes continue and Anchorage loses 30,000 in population
  • Soviets allow a one-day visit of a group of Alaskans to the Siberian port city of Provideniya
  • Anchorage loses its bid to host the 1994 Olympic Games to Lillehammer, Norway.

1989 -

  • The Exxon Valdez, a 987' oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of North Slope crude grounds on Bligh Reef spilling 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound
  • Permanent Fund passes the $10 billion mark
  • Alaska Supreme Court throws out Alaska's rural preference law.

1990 -

  • Alaska population reaches 550,000 according to the US Census Bureau.
  • Over 800,000 visitors come to Alaska, some for business, most for pleasure.
  • Mining ranks as Alaska's fastest growing industry.
  • Permanent Fund makes its first investments in stocks and bonds outside the United States.
  • The Alaska legislature is unable to resolve the subsistence issue, federal authorities take control of subsistence issues on federal land.
  • The Tongass Reform Act designates more wilderness land in S.E Alaska.
  • Walter Hickel wins gubernatorial race on the Independence ticket.
  • The Estimated Alaska Native population: 95,000.
  • Amendments to ANCSA take affect.
  • The State of Alaska, the US Justice Department, and Exxon reach a $1 billion settlement resulting from the Exxon Valdez spill, initially rejected by US District Court - later accepted when amended to include restorative money.
  • Congress effectively closed the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Bristol Bay fishermen strike over low salmon prices.

1991 -

  • January 1 - 8 billionth barrel of oil arrives in Valdez.
  • Permanent Fund Dividends are paid to all Alaska residents for the 10th consecutive year.
  • The State of Alaska, the US Justice Department, and Exxon reach a $1 billion settlement resulting form the Exxon Valdez oil spill which is rejected by the US District Court.
  • An amended settlement earmarking more money for restoration work in Prince William Sound wins judicial approval.
  • Congress effectively closes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.
  • Bristol Bay fishermen strike over low salmon prices.
  • Hickel administration and the legislature unable to resolve the subsistence issue.

1992 - Final repercussions of Alaska's recession are felt as oil industry retrenches with major job losses; the Anchorage Times, once Alaska's largest newspaper folds; reapportionment challenges delay primaries by two weeks; Spurr Volcano erupts three times, one blast dumping ash on Anchorage; Juneau's Hillary Lindh wins Olympic Silver Medal in downhill skiing.

1993 - Alaska Legislature passes largest capital works appropriation in ten years; a court-mandated new reapportionment scheme re-draws boundaries of some election districts; Greens Creek Mine near Juneau closes due to low silver, zinc, and lead prices; Sitka Pulp Mill announces indefinites suspension of mill operations, affecting 400 workers; Alaskan Independence Party Chairman Joe Vogler mysteriously disappears.

1994 -

  • Federal trial results in $5 billion verdict in the Exxon Valdez case.
  • Alaska's Tommy Moe brings home Olympic gold in downhill ski competitions.
  • Voters defeat the latest proposal to move the Alaska capital away from Juneau.
  • US District Court rules in favor of the Katie John plaintiffs, reducing the federal government's fishing jurisdiction to those navigable waters "reserved to the United States."

1995 -

  • Canadian fisherman attack an Alaska ferry with paint and ball bearings projected from sling shots in frustration over inconclusive US-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty talks, which hinder Southeast Alaska's troll king salmon fishery.
  • MarkAir faces bankruptcy while ticket holders are stranded and employees all over the state are laid off.
  • The $267 million dollar Healy Clean Coal Project is launched with a substantial backing by the US Department of Energy.
  • Villagers from Alatna return to a newly rebuilt village after being one of several Koyukuk River communities washed out by fall floods in 1994.

1996 -

  • A federal judge rules against the State of Alaska in a case brought by Governor Hickel and continued by Governor Knowles over the state's interpretation of how the Alaska Statehood Act affects the federal government's management of federal lands in the state
  • US Congress lifts the ban on exportation of Alaska crude oil
  • One of the most devastating fires in state history destroys homes and property in the South Central area near Big Lake.

1997 -

  • High winds and seas caused a Japanese refrigerator ship to go aground near Unalaska, spilling approximately 39,000 gallons of fuel.
  • The Fairbanks Municipal Utilities System was sold to three private companies, ending 50 years of public utility ownership.
  • MAPCO, owner of Alaska's largest oil refinery, was bought by Williams Co. Inc.
  • Canadian fishermen in Prince Rupert blockaded an Alaskan ferry for three days in protest of Alaskan salmon-fishing practices, ferry service to Prince Rupert was disrupted for 19 weeks
  • Issue of the safety of the 20 year old Trans-Alaska pipeline was in the news, but both Alyeska and the Joint Pipeline Office maintained that the pipeline is well-monitored and safe.

1998 -

  • The legislature passes a bill requiring all students to pass exit exams to earn high school diplomas, to become effective in 2002.
  • Overturning a Ninth Court Circuit of appeals decision, the US Supreme Court rules that 1.9 million acres of ancestral land owned by the Venetie Tribe of Neetsaii' Gwich'in Indians are no longer under the governmental jurisdiction of the tribe.
  • Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer certified an initiative petition making English Alaska's official language. The initiative, placed on the 1998 general election ballot, passed making English the official language in state government

1999 -

  • British Petroleum announces intent to buy ARCO, starting a process involving the state of Alaska and the FTC in a discussion over state revenues and anti-trust.
  • In Kasayulie vs. State of Alaska, the court rules that Alaska has failed to provide adequate school facilities for Bush students, in violation of the Alaska Constitution and federal civil law.
  • Alaska Board of Education adopts standards for what students should know in math, reading and writing.
  • The lawsuit, Alakayak, et al. v. State of Alaska, was brought by the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, the Native American Rights Fund, and the North Slope Borough on behalf of 27 individuals whose constitutional rights would be violated if the English-only initiative were allowed to take effect on March 4.
  • The Alaska Legislature changes the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program formula reducing entitlement.

2000 -

  • First state educational standards tests for third-, sixth, eighth-graders and sophomores conducted. FTC approved BP Amoco's purchase of the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO).
  • April 26: Phillips Petroleum buys Arco Alaska, Inc.
  • Federal Subsistence Board designates the Kenai Peninsula as "rural", effectively making Kenai Peninsula residents eligible for subsistence fish & game on federal lands and waters.
  • State of Alaska sells four state-owned hydroelectric plants (the Four Dam Pool) for $73 million and adds the sale money to a $100 million appropriation taken from the Constitutional Budget reserve.
  • An endowment containing nearly $187 million is created to help fund the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program.
  • Doug Swingley of Lincoln, MT wins the Iditarod

21st Century Alaska History Timeline

2001 - Doug Swingley of Lincoln, MT wins the Iditarod

2002 -

  • Martin Buser of Big Lake, AK breaks the 9-day barrier, winning his 4th Iditarod title in 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds.
  • State study showed glaciers melting at higher rate.
  • Earthquake damaged highways and rural homes

2003 - Robert Sorlie of Hurdal, Norway wins the Iditarod.


  • Federal judge ordered Exxon to pay $6.75 billion for 1989 oil spill
  • Mitch Seavey of Seward AK wins the Iditarod.

2005 - Robert Sorlie of Hurdal, Norway wins the Iditarod.

2006 -

  • Sarah Palin takes office as Alaska's first woman governor
  • British Petrolum had 267,000 gallons oil spill at Prudhoe Bay; crew rescued from cargo vessel listing by Aleutian Islands
  • Jeff King of Denali, AK wins the Iditarod.
  • Aug 5 - 4 time Iditarod winner, Susan Butcher dies.

2007 - Lance Mackey becomes the first musher to win both the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in the same year.


  • Alaska Governor Sarah Palin runs on Republican ticket for US Vice President next to Presidential Candidate John McCain. Election won handily by Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate, Joseph Biden.
  • Lance Mackey won both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod sled dog races for the second year in a row.


  • 50th Anniversary of Alaska Statehood
  • The minimum wage jumps from $5.65 to $7.15, giving Alaska the highest minimum wage on the West Coast
  • Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska Governor for unspecified reasons.
  • Lance Mackey of Fairbanks AK wins the Iditarod.

2010 - Lance Mackey wins his 4th Iditarod race

Source: FAQALASKA Project, Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Library for the Alaska State Library.
Source for 1725-1993 : Alaska Blue Book 1993-94, 11th ed., Juneau, Department of Education, Division of State Libraries, Archives & Museums. [amended]
Source for 1994 : Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 12/26/94.
Sources for 1995 : Anchorage Daily News, 12/31/95; Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Heartland, 12/31/95.
Source for 1996 : Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 6/5/96.
Sources for 1997 : Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Heartland Section, 12/28/97; Alaska Almanac, 22nd ed. 1998.
Sources for 1998 : Alaska Almanac, 22nd-23rd ed. 1998-1999; Alaska Economic Trends, April 1999.
Sources for 1999: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Heartland, 1/2/ 2000; Anchorage Daily News, 1/1/2000; Alaska Almanac, 24th ed., 2000.
Sources for 2000 : Alaska Almanac, 24th ed., 2000; Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 12/30/00, p.C1;Census figure from State of Alaska website

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