Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: November 2nd, 2021

Free event to be offered virtually on Nov. 8


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a lecture on the historical Tlingit battles with Russians as part of a series on Southeast Alaska Native history in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

The talk, The Russian-Tlingit Conflict of 1802-1804: Origins, Course, Results, will be given by Alexander Vasilyevich Zorin, Ph.D., chief curator of collections at the Kursk State Regional Museum of Archaeology.

Dr. Zorin will give his speech from Russia in his native tongue, and the talk will be translated by Valiantsina Gouk of Juneau.

The 1802-1804 events had crucial importance for the history of the Russian colonies in North America. The Russian pioneers had to face the resolute resistance of the warlike and well-armed Tlingit Indians, who stubbornly defended their trade and commercial interests, Zorin wrote.

In the epicenter of this fight were the forts of the Russian-American Company (RAC) in the very heart of Tlingit country — on Sitka Island (currently Baranov Island). Besides the Indians and the RAC employees, the English and American sea-traders were involved in the fight, as well as the participants in the first Russian circumnavigation: the ship Neva’s sailors, under the command of Yuri F. Lysianskyi.

In the summer of 1802, the Tlingit combined forces to destroy the Russian fortress of St. Archangel Mikhail, exterminate the Sitka hunting party and block the way of the further advance of Russian colonization. In 1804, the RAC forces under the leadership of A.A. Baranov struck back and restored control over Sitka and the adjacent waters of the straits of the Alexander Archipelago. Later, thanks to skillful diplomacy, the parties managed to smooth-out the mutual contradictions and develop the rules of peaceful co-existence. Consulting the Russian and English-speaking written sources for the research, in combination with the oral Indian legends, allows us to clear up the causes of the conflict, restore in detail the course of the military operations and track the destinies of certain participants in these events, he wrote.

The lecture is scheduled at noon Alaska time, Monday, Nov. 8. All lectures will be streamed at 12 pm to the Sealaska Heritage YouTube channel.

About the Lecturer

Dr. Zorin was born in Kursk, Russia (1967), and graduated from the historical and pedagogical faculty of the Kursk State Pedagogical Institute (1991). In 1999, he defended a dissertation for a degree as a candidate in the historical sciences on the subject The Indian War in Russian America (Voronezh State University). Since 1981, he has participated in the archaeological research in the territory of the Kursk and Belgorod regions and is the author of 120 publications on the history of Russian America, history of North American Indians, archaeology and the study of local lore. He is the coauthor of many collective works, including The Borderland: Kursk region in the 17th century (2001), Kursk Region in the Civil War (2013) and Kursk Region through the Centuries (2014). He has been awarded the Certificate of Honor of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and is the winner of the I.K. Zabelin Award (2011).

This program is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Kathy Dye, SHI Communications and Publications Deputy Director, 907.321.4636,

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