Celebrating the past and the present
© Trent Swanson / AlaskaStock.com
From the shores of Ship Creek and Cook Inlet spawned a city, an anchorage to the last frontier, a construction camp for the railroad named by the US Postal Service, and it is an apt name. Anchorage is the anchor of Alaska.
It’s been a staging ground for progress for the last one hundred years and so it will be for the next one hundred. Let’s go back a little further in history to 10,000 BC, about twelve thousand years ago; that’s when the First Peoples of Alaska discovered Anchorage. As soon as the glaciers from the Ice Age retreated enough to expose the shore lines and allow passage and habitation the Dena’ina Athabascans began living in the area, thriving for thousands of years and joined throughout times by Alaska Natives from other areas of the state whose nomadic migrations and early adventures brought them to Anchorage as well.
A testament to the fact is Cook Inlet Region Inc., the Anchorage-area Alaska Native regional corporation formed as a result of the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. CIRI’s shareholders are made up of descendants of “Athabascan, Southeast Indian, Iñupiat, Yup’ik, Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, and Aleut/Unangax descent—a unique cultural diversity that represents shareholders from all Alaska Native groups, from throughout the state.”
Much like CIRI’s shareholders came to Anchorage, so have many of the other Alaska Native regional corporations. They’ve established offices and operations and contributed vastly to the growth of Anchorage, making it a more sustainable community.
Just as CIRI’s people make up a “unique cultural diversity,” so do the people of Anchorage. It’s been said that 2030, fifteen years from now, will be the year the minority becomes the majority in Anchorage. It’s already a fact in the Anchorage School District and has been since the 2008-2009 school year; the 2014-2015 school year saw a 57 percent minority population.
The people of Anchorage are from all over Alaska, the United States, and the world—we are an international city, both in stature and in population. This great diversity of people contributes to new possibilities to further diversify business and industry—the knowledge base, new ways of thinking, and different ways of doing things. For a city that is one hundred, Anchorage is quite young and spry.
So is the team at Alaska Business Monthly; we’ve put together another really great magazine. Enjoy!
—Susan Harrington, Managing Editor
This article first appeared in the July 2015 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.