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Alaska after the adjournment of congress and by personal investigation and observation try to discover what legislation in regard to the public lands in that territory would be expedient and wise in order to meet existing conditions.
SECRETARY RYAN TALKS.
First Assistant Secretary Ryan, of the interior department, who has jurisdiction of matters relating to territories, and who supervises the government of Alaska, talked interestingly regarding the strength of the government of Alaska and its resources for taking care of the citizens there.
"There is no disguising the fact that the force employed in the civil government in Alaska is entirely inadequate," he said, "if there is any appreciable increase in the population at points remote from the towns where the government officials are now located.
"We are limited by the law to a fixed number of officials, and, while an effort has been made to increase the force, congress has only authorized four additional commissioners and four deputy commissioners. The active force in the territory that has to carry on the civil government is small. The police force, as you might term it, consists of a United States marshal and eight deputy marshals, eight United States commissioners, and eight deputy commissioners. Of course, in case of trouble the marshal could exercise the power of a high sheriff and summon the posse comitatus."
GOVERNMENT WILL AID.
Secretary of Agriculture Wilson believes that congress at its next session will authorize the establishment of an agricultural experiment station in Alaska. He said to-day he had no doubt the people in some parts of Alaska would be able to produce their own vegetables, and to some extent the cereals they will need. The hardy classes of animals, he said, also, could be raised there. The cattle from the mountains of Scotland, he believed, could be raised successfully in Alaska, but so far as is known now the mining
regions in the vicinity of the headwaters of the Yukon river are about a thousand miles away from any part of Alaska in which agriculture could be successfully pursued.
Recognizing the importance of the great gold discoveries in Alaska and adjoining territory, and in obedience to the widespread demand for authentic information in regard thereto, the commissioner of labor has detailed from his regular force an expert, thoroughly familiar with all the features of gold mining, to proceed immediately to the Klondyke for the purpose of making a careful and exhaustive study of the conditions as they exist there. It is the intention of the commissioner to embody the facts in a special report or bulletin of the department, which will appear at an early a date as possible.
This is a subject of absorbing interest to all classes and in making this investigation the commissioner feels that he is working in the interest of the unemployed. Such a report as that contemplated, giving the unbiased facts as to the opportunities for the investment of capital and the employment of labor, wages, cost of living, etc., he believes will be of great value to the people of this country.
Commissioner Hermann of the general land office will recommend the establishment of two land districts in western Alaska, and two offices to be placed on the Yukon river or its tributaries, in anticipation of a great number of contentions over mineral land locations in various sections where the gold discoveries have been made.
He says that as that region is practically without law, especially as to the settlement of contests, the local land office will be of inestimable value to the land interests and indirectly to the preservation of law and order.
The offices, it is probable, will be located at Circle City and Dawson City. The general land office is in hourly expectation of petitions and requests for such action.
In the National House of Representatives on July 22nd Mr. Lacey of Iowa secured unanimous consent for the consideration of a bill to attend the act creating a civil government in Alaska.
It was identical with the bill passed by the house at the last session, creating a surveyor general and a register and receiver of the general land office.
It, however, contained an additional feature empowering the president to create an additional land district.
Mr. Lacey explained that the Yukon gold discoveries rendered an additional land office imperative.
In answer to a question, he said the gold fields lay in both the United States and British North America. The Klondyke region was in Canada.
The bill was passed.
THE TERRITORY OF ALASKA.
Early History of Alaska-The Purchase of AlaskaEarly Day Statistics-Character of the Population— Principal Industries of Alaska-The Country and Its Extent-Before the Purchase-The Great YukonBoundary Line-Alaskan Dogs.
The northwest coast of that part of America embracing Alaska was discovered and explored by a Russian expedition under Behring in 1741; and at subsequent periods settlements were made by the Russians at various places, chiefly for the prosecution of the fur trade. In 1799 the territory was granted to a Russo-American fur company by the Emperor Paul VIII., and in 1839 the charter of the company was renewed. New Archangel, in the island of Sitka, was the principal settlement, but the company had about forty stations. They exported annually 25,000 skins of the seal, sea-otter, beaver, etc., besides about 20,000 sea-horse teeth. The privileges of the company expired in 1863, and in 1867 the whole Russian possessions in America were ceded to the United States for a money payment of $7,200,000. The treaty was
signed on 30th March, and ratified on 20th June, 1867, and on 9th October following, the possession of the country was formally made over to a military force of the United States at New Archangel. It still remains in the military keeping of the United States, no steps having been taken to organize a territorial government. It has, however, been constituted a revenue
district, with New Archangel, or Sitka, as the port of entry. Since Alaska was ceded to the United States considerable information has been collected as to the resources of the less sterile parts of the country; but the central and northern parts of this region are only known as the inhospitable home of some wandering tribes of Indians and Esquimaux. Portions of Alaska have also been recently explored by the employes of the Russo-American Telegraph Company in surveying a route for a line of telegraph which was designed to cross from America to Asia near Behring Strait, a project which was abandoned, after an expenditure of 600,000 pounds, on communication with Europe being secured by the Atlantic cable.
THE PURCHASE OF ALASKA.
With an area of 577,390 square miles, Alaska was acquired by purchase from Russia March 30, 1867, the treaty being ratified June 20 of that year, and the transfer completed in October. The negotiations were made through W. H. Seward, Secretary of State, and the purchase price was $7,200,000. The exact boundaries of the territory were not known at the time, and they are yet in a state of interesting_uncertainty, depending largely on the annals of the Russian missionaries and on the scant records handed down by the Hudson Bay company.
EARLY DAY STATISTICS.
When Alaska was annexed the population was stated by the Russian missionaries at 33,426, of whom but 430 were whites. The mixed race, termed creoles -counted 1,756, and were the practical leaders, using the Indian tribes for hunting and fishing. Fur trade and the fisheries were at that time the only known resources. As early as 1880, however, the sea otters shipped represented a value of $600,000, the fur seals over $1,000,000, the land furs $80,000, and the fisheries from $12,000 to $15,000.
Mineral riches were hinted at by the early explorers. In 1885 the Director of the Mint credited Alaska with