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Modern calculation of the Il’mena, the brig that brought Russians and Alaska Natives to mountain Nicolas Island in 1814. Illustration through Elizabeth Chapin.

Karana, a 12-year-old indigenous girl, gathers roots for food in a canyon on she island home. Nearby, Karana"s six-year-old brother, Ramo, the town hall the sea together a large ship sails towards the island. Neither of the children has viewed a huge ship before. The vessel—a "red ship through two red sails"—brings a Russian, Captain Orlov, and Aleut hunters.

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While Karana, Ramo, and also their entire community look on, Captain Orlov is rowed come shore. The Russian tells Chief Chowig, Karana and Ramo"s father, the he has actually 40 men and also they wish to hunting sea otters. After ~ a discussion, Karana"s father enables the hunt to take it place but insists top top an equal share that the profit.

Karana and also the indigenous human being on the island live in a town called Ghalas-at. Your island is twenty leagues native Santa Barbara (California, USA).


Fact Check: Russians and also Aleuts

Did Russians and also Aleuts take trip to the California Channel archipelago to hunt sea otters? 

What perform we know?Employees of the Russian American firm (RAC) carried Aleuts and also other Alaska Natives come the Channel archipelago to hunt sea otters throughout the early to mid-1800s (nineteenth century). 

What is the evidence?Primary source: read an excerpt native a letter I.A. Kuskov, a RAC manager, writes to the Commander-in-Chief the the Russian colonies in America. The letter tells about the arrival of the delivery Il’mena at mountain Nicolas Island, v the function of hunting sea otters. 

Secondary source: In Voices from the Field, Dr. Glen Farris discusses Russian and also Alaska indigenous hunters comes to hunt sea otters in the 1800s (nineteenth century).

Secondary source: Dr. Glenn Farris describes, as part of a bigger research article, the trip of the Il’mena to the Channel Islands, where Russian and Alaska indigenous hunters landing to hunt sea otters.


Voices native the Field

Jerry Lassos, a Gabrielino, talks around his tribe’s name for mountain Nicolas Island. 

Dr. Valley Farris, California State Parks archeologist (retired), discusses why the Russians cruised to the Channel Islands throughout the first half that the 1800s (nineteenth century). 


Photos & MultimediaHistoric artwork: view of ft Ross, 1828. Many ships comes to the Channel islands to hunt sea otters stopped at fort Ross, a swarm in north California managed by Russia from 1812 come 1841. By A. B. Duhaut-Cilly. Courtesy of Fort Ross State historical Park picture Archives.

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See the Yourself!Learn much more about the Russian history in phibìc America at fort Ross State historic Park ~ above the north coast of California.
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Last updated: December 11, 2018


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