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Monument fall in the United States threatens the monument to the first Russian governor of Alaska: the diaspora is trying to save him

Alexander Baranov was the first Russian governor of Alaska and the founder of Sitka. Against the backdrop of protests and monumental fall in the United States, the authorities of this city are asking to move the monument to Baranov to another place. The first Russian governor is accused of genocide of the indigenous population of Alaska. Russian-speaking residents of Alaska created on the portal Change.Org petition in support of the preservation of the monument as part of history.

Photo: Shutterstock

The Baranov Monument is located in the historical center of Sitka, which until 1867 was called Novo-Arkhangelsk and served as the headquarters of the Russian-American company and the capital of Russian America.

Under the leadership of Baranov, more than 200 settlements were built, including critical infrastructure, such as shipyards, industrial and agricultural production, as well as institutions such as public libraries, schools, hospitals and nursing homes. More than 60 churches and a seminary were built under his leadership.

Recognizing his many accomplishments, the U.S. Navy named the ship after Baranov and in 1942 transferred it to the Alaskan State Defense Forces based in Kodiak.

Russian-speaking residents of Alaska said they “oppose the local proposal to move the statue and see it as an attempt to erase important pages of Alaska’s rich history, Russian-American heritage and intercultural interaction.”

You can support the petition link.

Why do they want to move the monument

On Tuesday, June 30, the island’s tribal council and the Sitka authorities adopted a resolution in support of the transfer of the statue of Alexander Baranov to the museum, writes Sitkasentinel.

The resolution says that the authorities will move the statue and erect a new monument that will "honor the whole past, present and future generation of Sitka."

The resolution stated that Alexander Baranov is an important part of the history of Sitka, but emphasizes the pain that Baranov inflicted on the indigenous peoples of Sitka and other parts of Alaska.

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“It is well known that Alexander Baranov, being the director of the Russian-American Fur Company, left an indelible mark on the history of Sitka,” the resolution says. - However, it is also well known that most of this story is associated with Baranov's direct observation of the enslavement of the Tlingits and Aleuts, who hunted fur-bearing animals almost to their extinction, as well as the violation of the law, murder and theft of property of indigenous peoples, often justified by theory racial and cultural superiority. "

The resolution notes that the statue of Baranov for many does not mean the peaceful arrival of Europeans in the area.

“The violence committed by Baranov continues to be heard, and waves of historical trauma still hurt indigenous peoples today,” the resolution says. "The statue of Baranov on the central square in Sitka still causes divisions in society."

“Placing a monument in the center of the city could lead to the wrong message to residents and guests of Sitka,” the resolution says. "The Baranov Monument continues to show a figure steeped in racial division, violence and injustice."

The resolution followed the citizens ’request that the authorities remove the statue, and a peaceful protest in front of the Harrigan Centennial Hall in late June.

The monument was a gift to the city from Lloyd and Barbara Hames in 1989. In a statement to the Assembly meeting of June 23, grandson Brian Hames said the decision to move the monument did not belong to his family.

“This statue was a gift. Therefore, its recipient has the right to do the same as with any other gift, ”he said.

Who is Alexander Baranov

A native of the Arkhangelsk province, Alexander Baranov was engaged in trade in Russia until 1780, and then headed the North-East (later - Russian-American) company engaged in fur trade in the Aleutian Islands and off the coast of the North of the USA, writes Lenta.Ua.

In 1799, he founded the fort of Archangel Michael on the island of Sitka (southeast Alaska). On the one hand, the fort was founded with the permission of the Tlingit Indian elders, and on the other, the activities of the Russian-American company undermined the basis of their economic well-being. The income of the Tlingits was brought by the fishing of sea otters, the so-called sea otter, and in this sense the Russians were direct competitors of the Indians.

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In May 1802, the Tlingit uprising began, striving to expel the Russians along with kayak flotillas from their land. In June, a detachment of 600 Indians led by the leader Catlian defeated the fort, killing 24 Russians and 200 Aleuts.

Having accumulated strength, Baranov conducted a punitive expedition with the help of the Neva military sloop, expelled the Indians, and instead of the fortress destroyed by them, founded the settlement Novo-Arkhangelsk, which became the capital of Russian America.

Skirmishes continued in 1805. Baranov ordered the extermination of several thousand Tlingits hiding in the mountains on the island of Sitka, which was soon renamed “Baranova Island”. The truce that followed was not recognized by the Indians, since it was concluded without observing the relevant rites. In 1807, Baranov was awarded the Order of St. Anna of the II degree for the fight against the Tlingit.

Only 200 years later (in 2004) did the official reconciliation ceremony between the Kiksadi clan and Russia take place. The ceremony was organized in a clearing, next to the totem pole of the leader Katlian and with the participation of Muscovite Irina Afrosina, great-great-great-granddaughter of Alexander Baranov.

A decade and a half before, a statue of Baranov was installed in front of the Harrigan Centennial Hall community center on the ocean, who saw himself as a conquistador and compared it with Francisco Pizarro, who captured the Inca empire.

What will happen to the statue

About 10% of the inhabitants of modern Sitka are descendants of Russian settlers of the 900th century, but this does not mean that Baranov’s actions are treated with understanding and pride. Representatives of Alaska Native Sisterhood have already collected 9000 signatures for the transfer of the monument. For a town with a population of less than XNUMX inhabitants, this is an impressive figure.

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“Baranov is a historical figure responsible for murders, enslavement, rape. He is the culprit of the genocide, ”says local resident Nicholas Galanin.

Members of the family who erected the monument do not object to its transfer, but ask not to destroy the statue, hoping that it will find its place in the museum.

Sitka Mayor Gary Paxton also believes that the sculpture should be left, while installing a monument to one of the representatives of the Tlingit people, given that they make up a third of the population.

It should be noted that the house of Alexander Baranov (originally it was the store of the Russian-American company, built in the first capital of Russian America - Pavlovsk Harbor, now Kodiak) since 1962 is recognized as a national historical monument of the United States and is today included in the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Perhaps the statue of the “Russian Pizarro” here will look quite organically, although today the question remains open.

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