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Atlas Alaska


K.A Former Pupils Worldwide

If you are a former pupil of Kilmarnock Academy
and you currently live or work in this state (or have lived in it for a period of time), then e-mail us at kaworldwide@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with your details. The essential details are: your name; the years you attended Kilmarnock Academy; where in the country you live or work (if you no longer live or work in this country, please state the years you were in residence there).

If you want to - and it does make things a lot more interesting - you can also provide us with a brief account of a favourite place or fond memory or favourite anecdote or local customs or local cuisine (or anything else about this country that you'd like to share with us). You can, if you wish, also include one or two photographs of places you lived in or visited during your stay in this country.


K.A. International - Worldwide Learning Network
If you know of a school in this state (possibly one that your own children have attended) that would be interested in developing links and engaging in joint projects with pupils at K.A., then please e-mail kaworldwide@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with contact details. You can get more information on this initiative by clicking here.

N. McIlvanney 2005

K.A Former Pupils in Alaska

Name                                                   Years attended K.A.                                   Area, City or Town of Residence



K.A. Pupils' Postcards
If you are a pupil or former pupil of Kilmarnock Academy
and you have visited this country, then e-mail us at postcard@kilmarnockacademy.co.uk with your details. The essential details are: your name; the years you attended Kilmarnock Academy; where in the country you visited.

If you want to - and it does make this page a lot more worthwhile - you can also provide us with a brief account of a favourite place or fond memory or unusual experience or local customs or local cuisine or first impressions or lasting impressions. (You can, if you wish, also include one or two photographs of a place you visited in this country).


N. McIlvanney 2005

K.A Pupils' Postcards from Alaska

Name                                                   Years attended K.A.                                    Area, City or Town Visited


Capital

Juneau
Total Area
591,004 sq mi
1,530,693 sq km
Population
626,932 (2000 census)
Major Cities
Anchorage (250,505), Fairbanks (32,960), Juneau (29,756), Sitka (8,510), Ketchikan (8,274) (July 1996 est.)
Highest Point
Mt. McKinley
20,320 feet
6,194 meters
Income per capita (US$)
$28,577
Industry
petroleum and natural gas, gold, food processing, lumber and wood products, tourism, fishing
Agriculture
seafood, nursery stock, dairy products, vegetables, livestock
Natural Resources
petroleum, fishing, zinc, gold, silver, tin, lead, sand and gravel, crushed stone

History
Since white settlement, Alaska has both struck it rich and struck out with its natural resources. While fur was fur, picks struck gold, whales swum obligingly into harpoons and oil gurgled in pipes, Alaska seemed a bountiful repository of raw resources. As each of these resources in turn has been discredited or exhausted, the state has fallen into disfavor, often portrayed as a bleak and thankless environment that only the polar bear or the Inupiaq could call home.

The first Alaskans migrated from Asia to North America from 40,000 years ago during an ice age that squeezed a 900mi (1449km) land bridge out of the ocean separating Siberia and Alaska. Although many of these nomadic tribes continued south, four ethnic groups remained to eke out their existence in the wilderness - the Athabascans, Aleuts, Inupiaq and the coastal tribes of Tlingits and Haidas. The first Caucasian to set foot in Alaska was Virtus Bering, a Danish navigator sailing on behalf of the tsar of Russia in 1728, who quickly took notice of the pelt potential of the large local seal and otter populations. The Russians quickly established a base for the fur trade on Kodiak Island, a lawless cowboy trade, which spat and bit unregulated until the Russian-American Company was organized in the 1790s. Other European invaders, most notably the Spanish and the British, were seduced by this lucrative coast but Russian predominance extended well into the 19th century.

The fur trade hit hard times in the 1860s and, with European wars demanding both attention and resources, the Russians decided to downsize their territorial holdings: several offers for the sale of Alaska were made to an initially ambivalent USA. Eventually, in 1867, the Americans signed a canny treaty to purchase the region for US$7.2 million - less than two cents an acre. Despite the bargain buy out, Alaska remained lawless and unorganized, accessible (and interesting) only to a few hardy settlers until its natural riches began to be exploited one by one. First it was whales, taken mostly in the Southeast, and then the enormous salmon stocks, but the real explosion in Alaska's economy, population and profile came in the 1880s with the discovery of gold.

Chortling with the confidence which arrives hand in hand with wealth, big hats and the clicking over of a century's clock, Alaskans (all 60,000 of them) began laying claim to their own future. Congress began to grant non-voting legislative privileges but the statehood movement subsided during WWI when many residents departed south for high-paying jobs. Thus depleted, Alaska dozed until mid-1942 when the Japanese rang alarm bells by attacking the Attu and Aleutian Islands. Alaska owes much of its infrastructure to the concerted US response to this military threat to its northwest flank. Most notably, Alaska's only overland link to the rest of the USA, the Alcan, was built, a 1520mi (2447km) engineering masterwork completed in just over eight months. The injection of funds and personnel spurred post-war development, leading to a new drive for statehood. In 1959, President Eisenhower proclaimed the 49th State of the Union, spawning the cute Alaskan monikering of the 'Lower 48'.

In 1968, massive oil deposits were discovered underneath Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Ocean, provoking intense negotiations between a ravenous oil industry, environmentalists and Native Alaskans with moral claims to land which now promised to generate extraordinary wealth. A treaty was signed with the indigenous population in 1971 and a 789mi (1270km) pipeline to the warm-water port of Valdez was constructed. In 1977 the oil which has made Alaska the richest state in the USA began to flow. Oil still accounts for the gleam in the eyes of many Alaskans despite the shadows cast by the 1986 slump in world prices and the tragic Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

The exploitation of 'natural resources,' particularly oil, is a hot topic in Alaska, concentrating the juicy issue of a coveted independence from Washington, the concerns of environmental groups, the desire for economic wealth and the rights of the indigenous population. An increasing awareness that the Alaskan wilderness is an outstanding natural resource all the more valuable if it is left untouched may be the sentiment which saves the fabled frontier.