SUPPLY CHAIN WOES – James Pelletier, Yellow Jersey bicycle mechanic, is surrounded by cycles waiting to be repaired as he points to empty display racks at the Harbor Drive store. The main showroom rack, which can hold two dozen new bicycles, now holds only three bicycles (including an unclaimed special-order $5,000 electric mountain bike) for sale. A nationwide supply chain disruption of bicycles and parts is not expected to be alleviated any time soon. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Day Festival Called Off; Coronavirus Cited

Sentinel Staff Writer

For the first time since the annual celebration began in 1949, the Alaska Day Festival has been postponed, officials said.

The local observance of the anniversary of the Oct. 18, 1867, ceremony in Sitka transferring Russian Alaska claims to the United States won’t be held because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We involved in Alaska Day kept hoping that difficulties would be resolved, but the problems with travel, and just gathering, were such great obstacles that... what has become normal for Sitka... is not going to happen this year as usual,” Elaine Strelow told the Sentinel today. She has long coordinated scheduling and public relations for the Alaska Day Festival.

Strelow described the ceremony as “a tribute to all who had a part in developing Alaska.”

In years past, the week leading up to the 18th has included a variety of events, including a parade, a ball, a re-enactment, contests, social events  and performances. Worries about risk of spreading the virus at such gatherings have had an impact.

“How can you have a parade with the crowds on the sidewalk and maintain social distancing?” Strelow asked.

She said the postponement is not necessarily a cancellation, and the final decision “will depend on what transpires between now and October.”

“We were unable at this point to anticipate any assurance that the risk to health in the community could be provided for,” Strelow said. “We know that, psychologically, we all need a boost but there just were too many restrictions.”

The Festival in recent years has undergone basic changes, with more recognition of the Native people who where here before the Russians came, and who continue to make up a large part of the Sitka population.

Since 2017, a Tlingit “Mourning Ceremony” has been held at the base of Castle Hill coinciding with the transfer re-enactment on top of the hill.

In a statement prior to last year’s mourning ceremony, organizers Louise Brady and Simon Gorbaty said its purpose was “to mourn the cultural trauma caused by Russian and American invasion, colonization, and forced assimilation,” and that it “acknowledges the land loss and cultural genocide ushered in by the illegal sale of a territory the Russians did not rightfully own.”

They also proposed that Sitka’s October 18 observance be renamed Reconciliation Day.

Brady said that much like the Alaska Day Festival, the Mourning Ceremony may not be held this year out of health concerns.

“We need to take care of our elders,” Brady told the Sentinel today.

“My people are from here. I am Kik.sadi. And we have been here for thousands of years,” Brady said. “Our clan was the one that fought the Russians in 1804. And it is difficult to celebrate for me, as a Kik.sadi person, because it (the Alaska Day ceremony) overlooks and ignores those of us who have been here for thousands of years. And that in turn completely ignores the historical trauma that was brought by both the Russians and the United States.”

Strelow said the Festival organizers have taken note of this.

“Many of us on Alaska Day have been concerned about how do we recognize the significance of the historical event of 1867 but encourage folks to appreciate that there are many ways of looking at the impacts of that event,” Strelow said. “We would encourage the community to understand that there were impacts.”

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 9-21-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:40 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 70

Total statewide – 6,906

Total (cumulative) deaths – 45

Active cases in Sitka – 32 (22 resident; 10 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 26 (22 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 265.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




September 2000

A bill approved by the U.S. Senate Wednesday would increase federal funding to Sitka for roads and schools to $1.3 million, six times the amount received in 1999. The bill by Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., changes the formula for distributing aid to counties that have tax-exempt federal forest land.

September 1970

A car driven by Del Childress apparently put a dent in the left front fender of a vehicle belonging to William Burns. Damage was estimated at $25.