In 1867, Tsar Alexander II sold Alaska to the US. On October 18 of that year, the transfer was finalized and the American flag was raised over Fort Sitka.
The US Government then began its project to “Christianize” the “savages,” but was somewhat baffled to find that the “savages” were already Christian — but the wrong sort; and literate — but in the wrong languages and the wrong alphabet.
So our government, as they did to the other native people, took away the natives’ children by force to boarding schools, where they were forbidden from speaking Aleut or Tlingit or Yupik or Russian, were denied any opportunity to go to an Orthodox church, or even be visited by a priest, and were pressured to become Protestant.
Oddly enough, if it weren’t for their priest shortage, they would have been even worse off. But they’d all had to learn the reader’s services, and they were able to keep their prayers and services going even under this persecution.
Someday, I hope, today will be recognized as the Synaxis of the New-Confessors of Alaska. It will be a while, of course, since so many are still alive — the boarding school system didn’t *begin* to be phased out until the 1970s.
Pray to God for us, O Holy New-Confessors of Alaska, for we fervently flee to you, the speedy helpers and intercessors for our souls.
The header image above is from an NPR story: After 87 Years At The Smithsonian, Bones Of Alaska Natives Returned And Reburied