|Significance||Formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States|
|Observances||Parade in Sitka, paid holiday for State of Alaska employees|
|Next time||October 18, 2020|
|Related to||Seward's Day|
Alaska Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. state of Alaska, observed on October 18. It is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States, which occurred on Friday, October 18, 1867.
On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for the sum of $7.2 million. It was not until October of that year that the commissioners arrived in Sitka and the formal transfer was arranged. The formal flag-raising took place at Fort Sitka on October 18, 1867. The original ceremony included 250 uniformed U.S. soldiers, who marched to the governor's house at "Castle Hill". Here the Russian troops lowered the Russian flag and the U.S. flag was raised.
... The troops being promptly formed, were, at precisely half past three o'clock, brought to a 'present arms', the signal given to the Ossipee ... which was to fire the salute, and the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag ... The United States flag ... was properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary [and son], George Lovell Rousseau, and again salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around ... Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said, 'General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska' and in a few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end."
Alaska's territorial legislature declared Alaska Day a holiday in 1917. It is a paid holiday for state employees. The official celebration is held in Sitka, where schools release students early, many businesses close for the day, and events such as a parade and reenactment of the flag raising are held.
It should not be confused with Seward's Day, the last Monday in March, which commemorates the signing of the treaty for the Alaska Purchase in which the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867.
Alaska Day is protested by Alaska Native people who view the holiday as an uncritical celebration of the violence used to take their land away and a confirmation of colonial aggression. Native organizers state that the land was not the Russian's to sell in the first place, therefore the sale of the land to the U.S. is illegitimate. Reenactments of discovery and transference, such as celebrations of Columbus and the Alaska Day transfer ceremony, perpetuate the misunderstanding that histories of Western settler colonialism are all that need to be recognized.