One of the many native peoples of Alaska, the Tlingit people are a fearsome bunch. Hostile towards intruders and other native tribes, they often waged war against other peoples and were known to keep slaves (who made up about a third of their population).
Always aware of the possibility of war, villages were built along the edge of a beach, generally in sheltered coves. Village locations were chosen carefully to allow the most visibilty of possible attack and the most protection. Their canoes were well-suited for war, carrying 30-50 people and being built for speed and stability.
Unlike most other native groups in Alaska, their houses were not built partially underground. Built of sweet-smelling red cedar, their houses were one form of the rare Tlingit art. Beautiful carvings adorned every carveable surface. Totem poles of various types were built in front of their houses and gaily painted, telling the history of the clan or person it was erected for.
The Athabascan people of Alaska are very protective of their hunting grounds, but welcome traders with a wary eye. Traditionally very nomadic, a few groups built more permanent settlements. Living in the harshest part of Alaska where temperatures range from well below freezing in the winter (-70F) to quite hot in the summer (90+F), they had to adapt their houses to the weather. Winter houses were built somewhat underground, like the YUPIK and INUIT houses but summer houses were more like teepees, made of animal skins and brush.
Fairly peaceful but not strangers to warfare, the Aleut inhabit the southern islands of Alaska. Treeless and windswept, the islands offer little shelter from the almost-constant fog, drizzling rain, and wind. Few land animals live on the islands, and the plant life is rather scarce due to poor soil. Thus, the Aleut are forced to live off the wide variety of animals provided by the sea. Aleut houses were generally built on top of a hill or along an isthmus - both if possible. The hill provided an excellent place to watch for danger and sea animals while the isthmus provided the Aleuts with an easy way to move boats to a different body of water in case of attack. Whalebones and driftwood make up the structure of the Aleut huts, built partially underground and covered with sod for insulation.
Making their homes along the rocky beaches of the central-western Alaskan coast, the Yupik people are quite friendly. Traders and travellers are often welcomed and fed well. Living along the inland coast, they do not rely solely on the ocean for sustenance, but gather plants and hunt land animals to supplement their ocean-based diet.
Much like the northern Inuit people, Yupik homes were built partially underground. The frames of the huts were built of driftwood or whale bone and the walls constructed of sod. The hut was accessed by a single entryway, generally through a short underground tunnel to keep out the wind. The floors were of stone, whalebone, or driftwood and benches for sleeping on, sitting on, and working at were built around the edges of the hut. A fireplace was located in the center of the hut for warmth, light, and cooking. A few carefully-placed windows in the roof provided light as well as air vents.
Living in the northernmost part of Alaska, the Inuit are a cheerful people, often welcoming traders and other strangers into their settlements. Their settlements are generally inland a short distance, but still close enough to the ocean to easily hunt whales and seals. While not their main source of sustenance, the ocean still played a large part in Inuit survival.
Much like the southern Yupik people, Inuit homes were built partially underground. The frames of the huts were built of driftwood or whale bone and the walls constructed of sod. The hut was accessed by a single entryway, generally through a short underground tunnel to keep out the wind. The floors were of stone, whalebone, or driftwood and benches for sleeping on, sitting on, and working at were built around the edges of the hut. A fireplace was located in the center of the hut for warmth, light, and cooking. A few carefully-placed windows in the roof provided light as well as air vents.
Lured by the abundance of luxurious furs the wildlife of Alaska offered, Russian trappers and traders began roaming the wilds of Alaska in the early 1700s. Trading settlements and forts were built on many islands and in sheltered coves along the coast. Unfortunately for the Russians, the natives were not happy with this enroachment into their lands and staged attacks against the forts.
The fort at Sitka was built in the late 1700s and declared the Russian capital by Governor Aleksander Baranov. Called 'Novo Arkhangel'sk' (New Archangel) by the Russians, it replaced the old captial at Kad'iak (Kodiak). The Tlingits caused Aleksander many problems - burning parts of the fort, killing his soldiers, and making themselves an overall nuisance.