Friday, August 6, 2010

Alaska Bound

We're on our way to Sitka, AK today. I'm very excited about this trip. I'm doing a radio program tomorrow, then Sunday I'm speaking in the evening at the library in Sitka.

My Song of Alaska series is set in Sitka, so the place is near and dear to my heart. I've very much enjoyed setting a series in this location. The three book series spans the time period between 1870 and 1906 - a time that was so amazing and interesting in Alaska's history.

The native influences of the Tlingit (pronounced Kling-ket)people contributes rich cultural flavoring even today. The town name is derived from the Tlingit word "Shee Atika" in Tlingit meaning "people on the outside of Shee. "Shee" was the Tlingit name of Baranof Island. It was named for Alexander Baranov and that brings us to the Russian influence.

The Russians had a large settlement here. Alexander Baranov came as the chief manager for the Russian American Co and built Fort Redoubt St. Michael. Later as the town was deemed the capitol and administrative headquarters for Russian America the name of the town was changed to New Archangel and eventually back to the Americanized Sitka.

Of course, today the influences blend with those of Americans and the little town bustles with tourists every summer as various cruise ships stop in the harbor for visits. My first venture to Sitka was on one of those very ships, and since then we've made numerous trips back to collect research. It's an amazing island and makes for a nice get-away. Flying up from Seattle is fairly painless and often nonstop, so I encourage you to consider a little trip north.

Of course, it is a small town - not that flashy, but so very rich in history. The local history museum offers some wonderful exhibits and the Sheldon Jackson collection at the Sheldon Jackson museum is not to be missed.

I'd appreciate traveling prayers. We will be in Sitka until the 15th - in fact, Jim and I are teaching a mini writer's retreat in Sitka on the 13th and 14th. Should be great fun.

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