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Education In Alaska

Education In Alaska image
Parent Issue
Day
31
Month
July
Year
1885
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The (ilusión, lias American rula proved beneficia] (o tho AlaekansP is one which a Sin Francisco lady claims tobe able to solve, drawn irom her own experieuces in that uortliern ' land. Mary Witjanoff was tho maiden name of aii Alasksn woman, now the wife of a well-to do American gentleman of this city, wlio, in conversation with a Chronicle reporter, recently told the followin story: "My graniifather, Ivan Witjauoft", was the iirst Bussian to explore the Island of New Siberia, about the year 1800. Returning from a long and perilous journey, he annotmced his discovery to the Empresa Catherine II., who rewarJcd bim, as she rewarded otlier explorera, by sendins: liim iuto exile. It was not pol cy Of the Rnssian goveininent at that time to exteud its territory, as it was not anxioii8to opon new channels for the escape of political refugees. With other prisoners, including his own family, my grandfather was taken to Kussian America. Mv falher rnarriod a nativo Alaskan, and I was born and rearod the daughter of a political exile. And now I would like to disabuse the minds of pcople in thii country as to the stato of aö'airs in Alaska before the cession of the Araericn government. The ehildren of exiles wore not brought up in ignoranee and immorality, as some suppose, On the contrary, they were well cared for, being sent at carly aces to parisb schools in different parts of the country, and froni these schools were sent to the high schools at Sitka. The latter iustitutions were founded about forty years before the raising of the American flag in Alaska, and were under the direct charge of Princesa Maxutoff. The girls' aud the boys' were separate iustitutions, the former.which I attended a few yearsago, was taught by Princesa Maxutoff, Mme. Salamatofl and Mme. Konaplitski. It was a polytechnical school, fnrnishing education of a most practical nature. The girls were taught in Russian all the liighcr branches that were deemed of ajiy use to thetn, and there were hours for singing, playing the p'ano, learning embroidery work and kn.uing and ,-ewing. Besides that, we were taken into the garden in summer t'.ine, aud wore, taught how to plant and care for vegetables and tlowers, wholc classes being set at work weeding, watering and digging on certain tlays of the week. bome of the needlework done by tne girls was vcry artistic. and samples were sent abroadforcxhibition. On.two or three occasions that I can remeraber we sent boxes of shirts and anderclothing to San Francisco to bo sold, and in this and otber markets theinstitution re&lized quite a revenue from the work of the girls. "Every morning we would walk in line - two and two - to tbe church neai by, where part of our devotional exercises was to kneel bcfore the altar and breathe a short prayer for the Czar. Our clothing was of the plainest kind - black woolen dresses and coarse shoes - and wiien wc were out doors we all wore dark cloaks, and t:ed handkerchiefs over our heads ñatead oí hats or bonuets. "In the morning we were given toa and brown bread, and-perhaps a little iish. At noon we had soup with bread and vegetables, and our evening meal was also very simple; but we had plenty, and the plain d;et agreed w.th ihi 5 iris, who were all healthv and strong. n Sundays and holiday.s we were given white bread, which was considered a sort of luxury. We were gven our turns cooking meals. "And thus welivedand worked, and were very happy. But, ah, what a change came when the United StatOS took possession of the territory. No sooner had the soldiera plant -d the stars and stripes at Sitka, tban they began running about the to'.vn on regular foraging excursions. They came to our school and actcd in the most outrageous manner, insolting the girlá and frightening (hem nearly to doath. They entered the houses of some of our friends, drove the men away and outraged the women. It was found imppssible to go on with our studie.', 83 dranken soldiers were continuiilly annoying us. Besides that, the Russian government discontinued the appropriation for the support of the insiitulion. as it was turnea over to the United States. Our new protectors d';d not see the necess'.ty of maintaining this or any of the other schools, and so they have been broken up and have never been re-established. Some of the s;i"l3 in the Sitka schools went back to t'-.eir parents, and the other.s. freed from all restraint, begau to lead d ssolute lives, in which courso they were freely encouraged by the soldiers. With a few others I came to this eity in 18(Ö on the bark Menshikoft". During the lirst part of my stay here I was kiodly cared for by Fr. Agapius Honcharenko and others. I then met the gentleman who is noj' my husband and havo lived in this city ever since. But even to this day I think of the horrible statu of things introduced by the Americans in Alaska. With the oxception of ono or two widely separated mission schools, there are no educational facilities offered to the natives. Tho parish school system, by which they received so much valnable instruction, has never been revived, and the rising generation is growing up in dense ignorance, not one in a hundred know' ing how to read or write. Undcr Rusi sian rulo the education of none of the children was neglected, but under American rule they go without schooling. Is it not a sad commentary on tho boasted cilization of this country?" The native Alaskan who related tho foregoing details is a pretty brunette of features and form, and with dark eyes and intellectual brow. Sho showed the reporter some old photogi-aphs of her former school-mates. A glance at the pictures of these comelv ■ f iris would go far toward stirring the eart ot a philaathropist when the'i I former happy state is contrasted witb their present conditiou of i ness. _

Article

Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat