Russian Americans

Russian American Heritage Month JUNE – more info


The first Russians to come to U.S. territory didn’t even have to leave Russia to do so. In the 18th century, Russian explorers traveling east from Siberia discovered Alaska and claimed it as a possession of their emperor, or czar. The Aleutian island of Kodiak became the first Russian settlement in 1784, and traders and fur hunters founded trading posts throughout the territory. Eventually, Russia’s possessions ranged far down the Pacific coast, reaching all the way to Fort Ross in California, a mere 100 miles north of San Francisco.

The czar never planned to hold onto Alaska and sold the territory to the U.S. in 1867. Russian cultural influences persisted long afterwards however. The Russian Orthodox religion had arrived with the first traders, and missionaries continued to found primary schools and seminaries for generations to come. Many Native Aleuts and Eskimos converted to the new faith, and Russian Orthodox churches can still be found in Alaska today.


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