Originally Alaska was an Aleut word meaning "mainland."
"This name, now applied to the whole of our new territory, is a corruption, very far removed from the original word . . . called by the natives Al-ak-shak or Al-ay-ek-sa. From Alayeksa the name became Alaksa, Alashka, Aliaska, and finally Alaska. We have, then Alaska for the territory, Aliaska for the peninsula." William Healy Dall, 1870.
My working sister Becca told me that she has the day off of work today because it is Seward's Day. A holiday that I forgot about - being the "lady of leisure" that I am! Government workers and possibly others across the State are observing this day, remembering the successful purchase price of Alaska from Russia by William Henry Seward.
Alaska was considered by the ill-informed to be a wasteland of ice, icebergs and glaciers and so the deal and Alaska was referred to as "Seward's Folly." Instead Alaska has become the glittering snowy jewel of the U.S.A. I've wondered before just who I would be today if this purchase never took place!
I smiled to see that I have something in common with William Seward, he was born on my birthday in 1801! I read that the night that President Lincoln was shot, Seward was also attacked by a Confederate Veteran named Lewis Payne. Payne went into Seward' room and attacked him with a knife. For some reason, Seward was wearing a neck brace and so the knife did not accomplish Payne's goal. I wonder what the story was for the neck brace?
The agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia was signed by Seward on March 30, 1867 and approved by the U.S. Senate on May 27, 1867. President Andrew Johnson signed the final treaty the following day and the transfer was made October 18, 1867 in Sitka. October 18 became "Alaska Day" the same year, 1867, when Alaska became a territory of the U.S and the United States flag was raised in Sitka for the first time.
Seward's Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in March, remembering the signing of the treaty which purchased Alaska from Russia. The Monday following, this holiday is officially observed. Happy Seward's Day!
Day 90 of my Sister Millie's deep sleep. Winter's almost over (((((Ahka))))).