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Alaska History Trivia

Alaska History Trivia Quizzes

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5 Alaska History quizzes and 50 Alaska History trivia questions.
  Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
A quiz on the history of the U.S.'s second to last state: Alaska. It may be the last frontier but the history is ongoing.
Tough, 10 Qns, Joepetz, Feb 18 18
Joepetz gold member
Feb 18 18
230 plays
  Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Alaska had a long history before the Russians officially arrived in 1741. Unfortunately, most of recorded history begins at that point. See how much you know about Alaska before it was "discovered".
Average, 10 Qns, chikal98, Mar 05 12
556 plays
  Alaskan History 3: Before Statehood   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
What do you know about the nearly 100 years between the purchase of Alaska from Russia and statehood?
Tough, 10 Qns, chikal98, Feb 21 09
304 plays
  Alaskan History 2: Russian Alaska   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
With as interesting a history as any state in the union, Alaska began its road to statehood with its official "discovery" by the Russians.
Difficult, 10 Qns, chikal98, Feb 05 07
609 plays
  Alaska's Governors   popular trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
This includes questions about the people who governed Alaska, including Russian America, as well as the US Department, District, Territory, and State of Alaska.
Tough, 10 Qns, chikal98, Feb 11 07
347 plays
Related Topics
  Alaska [Geography] (23 quizzes)

Alaska History Trivia Questions

1. Who was the Secretary of State who received great criticism for successfully promoting the US purchase of Alaska from Russia?

From Quiz
Alaskan History 3: Before Statehood

Answer: William H. Seward

'Seward's Folly' and 'Seward's Icebox' were nicknames assigned to Alaska during and after the purchase. Charles Sumner was a senator from Massachusetts who as chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was also instrumental in effecting the acquisition. Andrew Johnson, of course, was the president at the time of the purchase. Horace Greeley was one of the most notable critics of the purchase. The famous newspaper man commented: "Except for the Aleutian Islands and a narrow strip of land extending along the southern coast the country would be not worth taking as a gift ..."

2. Humans may have begun to inhabit Alaska (and North America) by 12,000 BC, possibly earlier. To what racial group did these people probably belong?

From Quiz Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"

Answer: Asiatic

The consensus among paleontologists is that the first visitors to North America would have been Asiatic. Ethnic features of modern Alaskan natives seem to support this theory.

3. Vitus Bering, with Aleksei Chirikov, was commissioned in 1741 by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great to explore the northwest coast of Alaska. Bering, though, was not Russian. What was his nationality?

From Quiz Alaskan History 2: Russian Alaska

Answer: Danish

This was the first reliable information brought to the European continent about Alaska. Bering died of an illness, probably scurvy, while shipwrecked on "Bering Island" in Kamchatka, just across the "Bering Sea" from Alaska.

4. Russian explorer Grigory Shelikhov claimed Alaska for Russia when he invaded Kodiak Island in 1784. Shelikhov started a lucrative fur enterprise using the pelts of which animals?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: Sea otters

Shelikhov had already been an expert fur trader but the sea otters of Alaska had thicker and shinier fur than otters elsewhere and were more valuable. Previous settlers from Russia and elsewhere had a mixed relationship with the Native Alaskans. However, Shelikhov and his men were far more hostile. Hundreds if not thousands of indigenous people were killed and the Native Alaskans fought for their land by burning down Russian buildings and settlements.

5. What date in 1867 was the US flag first officially flown in Alaska?

From Quiz Alaskan History 3: Before Statehood

Answer: October 18

October 18 is now called Alaska Day and is a state holiday. March 30, 1867 was the date the treaty for purchase was signed with Russia. The holiday is now called Seward's Day and celebrated each final Monday of March. April 9 of 1867 was the date the treaty was approved by the US Senate. October 6, not October 17, was the last day of Russian ownership. Through the combination of the moving the International Dateline and a switch from the Julian calendar used by Russia to the Gregorian, Alaskan residents never lived through October 7-17, 1867. Curiously, October 6 and the next day October 18 were both Fridays.

6. How did the first human inhabitants of Alaska come to be there (according to most paleontologists)?

From Quiz Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"

Answer: across a now eroded land bridge

The idea of a "Bering Land Bridge" to western Alaska has long been a dominant theory of how humans first migrated to the New World.

7. Alaska's first American governor was a military commander, representing the US Army's authority there from 1868. What other much more famous American leader of the period shared his name?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: Jefferson Davis

Maj. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis (no relation to the Confederate President) was appointed to oversee Alaska just after the purchase from Russia. The Army remained in control of Alaska until 1877. For two years Alaska had no federal presence until the Navy and Revenue Cutter Service took authority in 1879.

8. The first European settlement in Alaska was founded in about 1784 by Grigory Shelikhov at Three Saints Bay. What is the general area of this settlement called today?

From Quiz Alaskan History 2: Russian Alaska

Answer: Kodiak Island

After Shelikhov and his party put down resistance and established control of the island, they built the first school to teach Russian to the natives and introduced the Russian Orthodox Church.

9. Although it took place in Canada, the 1789 Nootka Crisis played an important role in Alaska's history. Which two nations nearly went to war in the Nootka Crisis?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: Spain and Great Britain

Even in 1789, the Spanish believed they had a claim to Alaska (and other parts of North America) because of the 1493 papal bull Inter caetera. When word got out that the Russians were settling Alaska, Spain sent explorers there Russian hold on Alaska was relatively weak as the Russians never colonized the area to the extent Spain colonized its lands in the Americas. However, Spain did not wish to claim Alaska for itself but did try to claim British held territories in Canada, such as British Columbia. Spain started seizing British ships and the two countries nearly went to war. However, the problem was solved in the Nootka Convention which allowed open waters in the region. As a result, Spain more or less withdrew its claims in the Pacific Northwest. The convention gave the British much more access to Russian trading posts in Alaska and to expand the small settlements James Cook had started there the decade before. Russia was still considered Alaska's owner.

10. According to one theory, people entering western Alaska were temporarily blocked from spreading further across the Americas because of something scientists now call Wisconsin glaciation. What does this mean in laymen's terms?

From Quiz Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"

Answer: ice fields formed by the last ice age

When dealing with pre-history, periods as short as a winter season or the time it takes to backtrack a mountain route to select another are meaningless, but the final ice age may have prevented much movement beyond western Alaska for a number of generations. The ultimate point is that the first inhabitants of Alaska may have a much, much longer history than those in any other part of the Americas. "Temporarily" is a relative term in paleontology.

11. What was the main provision of the Russo-American Treaty of 1824?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: American merchants were not allowed to conduct business north of the 54-40' line

The Ukase of 1821 had banned all foreign merchants in Russian held Alaska. The Russo-American treaty further banned Americans from doing business north of the 54-40 line, which more or less excluded Americans from all Russian economic activities. In 1825, Russia allowed the British to trade in Alaska as part of a deal to define the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia. Other boundary disputes in the Pacific Northwest had been solved in the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty. The Russo-American Treaty of 1824 was ignored by Americans and by Russian merchants who needed trading partners. The evasion of the treaty is considered to be the beginning of waning Russian influence in the region.

12. The most populous tribe of the Coastal Indians were the Tlingits. They settled in the region of Alaska that today contains Sitka, Skagway, and the Tongass National Forest? What is this appendage like region of Alaska commonly called?

From Quiz Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"

Answer: the Alaskan Panhandle

If the rest of the Alaskan mainland is viewed as a pan, then South East Alaska does look somewhat like its handle. It is a region dominated by coastline, good for subsistence fishing and hunting. Other tribes of the Coastal Indians were (and are) the Haidas, the Eyaks, and the Tsimshians.

13. Though two of its territorial governors were born in Alaska, only one state governor was born there. Who was this Democrat who served as the first (and fourth) governor of the state of Alaska?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: William Egan

Born in Valdez, Alaska, Egan is a genuine founding father of modern Alaska. Every governor since him was born elsewhere in the US, so it is accurate to say there has never been a governor born in the "state" of Alaska: Alaska was a territory when Egan was born.

14. At what location did outlaw Soapy Smith die in 1898?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: Juneau Wharf

Soapy Smith was a notorious Alaskan outlaw active in illegal gambling and gold mines. Soapy and his gang had swindled a number of prospectors out of their gold and money. A vigilante committee was formed and demanded Soapy and his gang return the loot. Soapy arrived at a meeting on Juneau Wharf and an argument ensued. He was shot and killed on the spot while he shot a guard, Frank Reid who died two weeks later. The incident is called Shootout on Juneau Wharf.

15. The Athabascan Indians, who mainly inhabited the interior regions of Alaska, were semi-nomadic people. What circumstances most directly prompted this lifestyle?

From Quiz Alaskan History 1: Pre-European "Discovery"

Answer: They had to follow food resources according to seasonal and migratory conditions.

These hunting and gathering people depended largely on fish, moose, caribou, and berries for subsistence, so they moved constantly to where the best supplies would be. Weather in the interior of Alaska can be extreme, but indigenous peoples of every region of the world have found ways to endure climatic conditions. Legends are generally formed to reflect or explain existing lifestyles, not the reverse; and the Athabascan people had litle competition for this region of Alaska with its small concentrations of food.

16. Another governor to be elected to two non-successive terms was Walter J. Hickel. He was the second governor of the state, but why did he resign that position in 1969?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: to become Secretary of the Interior

Hickel is the only Alaskan to have headed a presidential cabinet department (1969-70).

17. Making headlines during World War II, were Attu and Kiska?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: Islands occupied by the Japanese

Attu and Kiska are two of the Aleutian Islands. Attu and Kiska were the only part of the continental U.S. to be occupied by the Japanese or an Axis power. Japan invaded the islands in 1942 and occupied them for about a year. The small population of Native Alaskans who lived there were all sent to internment camps. During the successful American effort to reclaim the islands, the villages were bombed and destroyed the newly freed Native Alaskans had to be resettled elsewhere.

18. During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt, as part of his "New Deal" programs, relocated hundreds of agricultural families to a fertile valley north of Anchorage. What is this valley called?

From Quiz Alaskan History 3: Before Statehood

Answer: Matanuska-Susitna Valley

The "Mat-Su" Valley is known for producing some of the biggest vegetables in the world. Though it has a short growing season, the long daylight hours of Alaskan summers allow cabbages to grow upwards of 60 lbs. The Tanana Valley is another agricultural area farther north in Alaska. The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes is a popular tourist attraction in Katmai National Park of southwest Alaska. The "smokes" emitting from the valley floor are the result of the eruption of Novarupta in 1912. Mendenhall is the valley that contains Juneau, the capital of Alaska.

19. Which governor oversaw the creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund program?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: Jay Hammond

The popular fund of invested oil revenues now pays Alaskan residents an annual dividend, but, ever the fiscal conservative, Hammond wanted the fund to be held as insurance against future state budget deficits.

20. Arliss Sturgulewski was the first woman to become a major party candidate for the governor's office of Alaska, that in 1986. A Republican, she eventually lost the general election to what Democratic nominee?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: Steve Cowper

Sturgulewski was also nominated by the Republicans in 1990. She then lost the general election to Hickel. Traditionally a Republican himself, Hickel had accepted the nomination of the Alaska Independence Party.

21. Which groups of native tribes formally sued in US federal court over the sale of Alaska to the US?

From Quiz Alaskan History 2: Russian Alaska

Answer: Tlingit and Haida

The Tlingits and Haidas claimed that the Russians hadn't paid them for their land, so it wasn't theirs to sell. A federal court agreed and arranged some compensation be paid.

22. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez began leaking oil when it struck what reef in Prince William Sound?

From Quiz Breaking the Ice: A History of Alaska

Answer: Bligh Reef

Bligh Reef lies in Prince William Sound and was the site of the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill that leaked almost 11 million gallons of crude oil. The Valdez Oil Spill was the largest oil spill in U.S. history until the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. The reasons for the Exxon Valdez spill are many but the chief among them is the fact that the radar system on the ship was broken and had been broken for over a year. Had it been working, the third mate would have realized the reef was approaching. Blame was also placed on the captain, Joseph Hazelwood, who was allegedly drunk at the time and sleeping it off in his cabin.

23. Finally, a question to get us up to the year 2007. Sarah Palin became the first female (and youngest) governor in Alaskan history when she took office in December 2006. What was the highest elected office she had held previously?

From Quiz Alaska's Governors

Answer: Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska

Palin was the mayor and manager of Wasilla for two terms after serving on the Wasilla City Council. She was unsuccessful in a bid to be Lt. Governor in 2002, but she has never run for either the State House or Senate. After the failed 2002 bid, Gov. Frank Murkowski put her in charge of the state's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a post she later resigned in protest.

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