The Tlingit Indians in Russian America, 1741-1867


The Tlingit Indians in Russian America, 1741-1867

Andrei Val'terovich Grinev
Translated by Richard L. Bland and Katerina G. Solovjova

388 pages


December 2008


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About the Book

The Tlingits, the largest Indian group in Alaska, have lived in Alaska's coastal southwestern region for centuries and first met non-Natives in 1741 during an encounter with the crew of the Russian explorer Alexei Chirikov. The volatile and complex connections between the Tlingits and their Russian neighbors, as well as British and American voyagers and traders, are the subject of this classic work, first published in Russian and now revised and updated for this English-language edition. Andrei Val’terovich Grinev bases his account on hundreds of documents from archives in Russia and the United States; he also relies on official reports, the notes of travelers, the investigations of historians and ethnographers, museum collections, atlases, illustrations, and photographs.
Grinev outlines a picture of traditional Tlingit society before contact with Europeans and then analyzes interactions between the Tlingit people and newcomers. He examines the changes that took place in the Tlingits' traditional material and spiritual culture, as well as military affairs, during the Russian-American period. He also considers the dynamics of the Tlingits' population, the increase in interethnic marriage, their relationships with European immigrants, and their ethnology.

Author Bio

Andrei Val’terovich Grinev is a professor of history at St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions in Russia and the author of many works in Russian. Richard L. Bland is a research associate for the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. He has translated The Fur Rush: Essays and Documents on the History of Alaska at the End of the Eighteenth Century by Katerina G. Solovjova and Aleksandra A. Vovnyanko. Katerina G. Solovjova is a specialist for the National Park Service Shared Beringian Heritage Program in Anchorage, Alaska.


“Andrei Grinev’s monograph, a substantial revision of his similarly titled Russian publication of 1991, is a welcome addition to the literature on Tlingit-European contact during the Russian colonial period in Alaska.” —Katherine L. Arndt, Western Historical Quarterly

“This meticulous record of Russian-Tlingit relations adds considerably to our knowledge of Russian imperial borderland frontiers. Despite his overall concern with social and economic forces, Grinev does personalize his account by bringing into this narrative individual Russians and Indians, the participants of the colonial encounter. He also uses Tlingit oral tales as sources. Finally, he closes the book with an excellent documentary supplement, which includes translations of Russian archival sources dealing with the Tlingit.”—Andrei A. Znamenski, Russian Review

“The book will be very useful for scholars and graduate students interested in Northwest Coast Indian history and anthropology, Russian empire history, colonial borderlands history, and Alaska history and anthropology. The maps, charts, notes, and appendix are excellent, particularly the latter, which contains translated archival documents.”—Erik Hirschmann, Alaska History

"A significant contribution to Native American studies."—Lucien J. Frary, Journal of the Early Republic

"Scholars who wish to more closely examine certain aspects of Tlingit/European contact will appreciate this comprehensive work."—Ann R. Myhre, Material Culture

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