The Man who Turned The Pacific into Russian Lake
A monument to Aleksandr Baranov, the first ruler of Russian Alaska, to be erected in Arkhangelsk18 july 2022
18 July 2022 // The plans to commemorate Aleksandr Baranov, a native of Kargopol and the first Governor of Russian Alaska, whose capital he named Novo-Arkhangelsk, were announced in Pomorye. The movement to install a monument was started by the Hero of Russia Mikhail Malakhov, Chairman of the Ryazan branch of the Russian Geographical Society. The governor of the Murmansk Region Alexander Tsybulskiy supported the idea, as well as the proposal to make a biopic about the outstanding pioneer.
Aleksandr Baranov was born in 1746 in Kargopol, into a merchant family. Upon moving to Irkutsk in 1780, he set up several commercial expeditions to northeast Asia and Alaska. In 1790, he accepted the offer of the trader Grigoriy Shelikhov to manage his Northeastern Company, the future Russian-American Company. Baranov was able to put his outstanding talents to good use in this new field.
He faced a supremely challenging task of setting up a Russian colony on the lands owned by the warlike Tlingits. Upon founding the first Russian fortress on the Sheet’-ká island, he made an attempt to establish relations with the natives, welcoming their leaders at his residence and giving them gifts. He did his best to resolve conflicts with the Tlingit through diplomacy.
However, once the ruler of Alaska left to attend to business matters, a war broke out, and the fortress was rased. In 1804, Baranov led a new expedition to Sheet’-ká. He would avoid engaging the Tlingit until the natives first sparked a conflict. Upon defeating the rebellious locals, he rebuilt the Russian outpost on the island. Baranov founded Novo-Arkhangelsk, which went on to become the capital of Russian America and a foothold for advancing south into California. The foundation of a new fortress on Sheet’-ká hugely raised Baranov's profile among the locals. The Baranov era in the history of Russian America ended in 1818. After having served there for over 25 years, he left the Russian colonies.
Baranov's contribution to the development of Alaska was immense. In 1989, a monument to him was erected in the city of Sitka. However, when a protests against racism surged across United States, there was a demand for the monument to be toppled. Then, the governor of the Arkhangelsk Region Alexander Tsybulsky offered to take the monument off the Americans' hands.
On 14 July 2020, the city council of Sitka decided to move the monument to Baranov from the city center to the museum of local history, so it remained in the USA. Still, a monument to the outstanding pioneer in Arkhangelsk is going to happen. 'Aleksandr Andreyevich Baranov is a key figure in the history of Kargopol, the Arkhangelsk Region and the whole of Russia,' Tsybulsky stated.Read more The Return of a Legend Why the search for a polar pilot who disappeared 85 years ago continues to this day