The New Approach to Development of Alaska's Natural Resources
- Thomas E. Kelly (Dept. of Mineral Resources, State of Alaska)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 1970
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 932 - 936
- 1970. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing
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- 100 since 2007
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Alaska's history is one of exploitation of its resources by nonresident interests. The attitude was "get and get out". This pattern has changed, and today Alaska demands that its resources be used for the maximum benefit of its citizens.
Alaska, meaning "The Great Land", is often labeled a slumbering giant, an icebox or frozen wasteland, or the last frontier. She has a history as romantic and colorful as any land over which the Stars and Stripes has ever flown; yet the approach to exploration and development - key words in economic progress - has not varied in large measure for most of the two and one-half centuries that the white man has been aware of the vast north country. In describing the pristine environment, romance writers find pristine environment, romance writers find immutability a factor of charm. But the charm vanishes when immutability is synonymous with the unchangeable pattern of exploration and development implied by pattern of exploration and development implied by the word exploitation. Though Alaskans exude great pride in the saga of the gold rush era and hasten to pride in the saga of the gold rush era and hasten to quote from the stories of Jack London and the ballads of Robert Service about the breathtaking adventures of the hardy prospectors, the aftermath of exploitation is unquestionably the greatest anathema to them. Exploitation in the development of Alaska's natural resources, with which she is so bountifully endowed, began with the early Russian fur traders and continued in the mining and fishing industries for most of her history as a territory. All followed a similar modus operandi - get and get out. The spectra of impermanence and insecurity lingered long over Alaska until a gradual change began little more than three decades ago. Accelerating with the advent of statehood in 1958, the new approach is evident everywhere today. "Hire Alaskan", "Build Alaskan", "Grow with Alaska" - all these slogans express a new philosophy that may be unrealistic if carried to extremes; but they portray a concept vital for Alaska. That concept is to portray a concept vital for Alaska. That concept is to "telescope time" and catch up with her sister sovereign states in prosperity and economic development.
History of Exploitation - Before 1930
Exploration of the northwestern comer of America came from three directions. The Russians came from the west across Siberia and the Bering Sea; the British came from the east through the Mackenzie Valley; and the Spaniards and Italians came from the south. All were exploring the rugged western coast of North America. Although the credit for discovery of Alaska has been given to Vitus Bering, a Dane serving as fleet captain in the Russian navy, the early Cossack adventurers who transgressed Arctic Siberia and landed at the Sea of Okhotsk made the first voyages across the frozen, ice-packed area between Asia and North America 40 years before Bering landed on St. Lawrence Island. A Cossack named Popof brought back to St. Petersburg in 1711 stories of the Diomede Islands that stimulated Russian explorers for the next half-century. Geographical names in Alaska reflect early exploration, very little of which led to colonization. Many geographical names reflect the different national origins of the explorers.
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