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Eleventh Census - Volume 8. Report on Population and Resources of Alaska

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Introduction

To take the census of Alaska even at this date, after 23 years of possession by the United States, involves a special condition in statistics. We are all familiar with the favorite illustration by means of parallel columns differing in color and length and denoting increase or decrease of population in successive periods of enumeration. In dealing with Alaskan statistics of population we have no previous diagram to which we may refer, not even a solitary column of definite figures upon which to build or base our present structure.

The people who discovered the region now known as Alaska, and who held it for nearly one and a half centuries, never knew nor even tried to ascertain the number of all the people therein contained. Vitus Bering, who commanded the Russian naval expedition which discovered the northwestern extremity of the American continent, never saw any of its people, and sacrificed his life upon an uninhabited island which still bears his name. Captain Alexis Chirikof, who commanded the second vessel of Bering's expedition, saw a few canoes filled with Thlingit warriors, probably on the coast of Baranof island, who approached his ship after having decoyed and massacred 2 boats' crews of his command. On his return voyage Chirikof and his officers saw a few natives belonging to one of the islands of the Shumagin group, and a few more belonging to islands of the Aleutian chain; but they made no estimate as to the probable population of the country they had discovered for their imperial mistress.

After the discovery of Alaska had been accomplished and duly heralded to the world the Russian imperial government rested upon its glory for many years, leaving it to the enterprise and courage of its hardy Siberian and Kamehatkan pioneers to develop the new discovery. As the horde of fur hunters advanced from island to island along the Aleutian chain in their frail boats of fir planks lashed together with rawhide thongs they observed and reported a multitude of good-natured savages at nearly every point visited in the course of their dangerous voyages, but did not venture upon estimates...

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