GRAB AND GO - Library patron Tina Johnson, left, and Joanna Perensovich, information services librarian, wear masks in the Sitka Library this afternoon. The library no longer has couches for patrons, but does have computer desks widely spaced apart for people to access for one-hour periods. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

June 23, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Statue

Dear Editor: On Oct. 27, 1962, a Soviet naval officer named Vasili Arkhipov made a split second decision that prevented the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating into a nuclear war.

U.S. Naval forces began dropping depth charges on the Russian b-59 submarine that Arkhiopov was on. The ship was out of contact with Moscow but was OK’d to launch its nuclear weapon if all three of the senior offices agreed. The ship’s captain screamed “We’re going to die, but we will sink them all!” The second officer in command of the trapped and sweltering sub also agreed to launch a nuclear torpedo at the Americans. The final decision was up to Vasili and he voted no. His daughter later said, “He did his part for the future so that everyone can live on our planet.” 

This is a great story with important life lessons about not buckling to peer pressure, keeping your cool, thinking long-term, avoiding assumptions, listening to your conscience, and preserving human life. Vasili was a hero and if I had to pick a Russian to honor with a statue in the public square it would be him. Instead we have a statue of a Russian named Alexander Baranof, who has been controversial from the beginning.

In 1989, the night before the statue, which sits in front of Centennial Hall was dedicated, someone cut off his nose in protest. In 2013 it was again symbolically defaced with cuts to its nose and forehead. A couple years ago, as confederate statues in the South started coming down, Martina Kurzer and Larry Edwards wrote a persuasive letter to the editor about removing Sitka’s bronze Baranov that sits on public land in the heart of Tlingit country. 

In a 2017 Raven Radio story the statue was described as “a symbol of epidemics, forced assimilation, bad policy, and destruction of a way of life.” Ironically, the Baranof quote that goes with the statue says, “That we may dwell in amity and peace forever in this region.” This statue is not contributing to amity or peace and it’s clear that many Sitkans do not like what it symbolizes. We can do better – we’re the birthplace of the civil rights movement in Alaska! What if we moved Baranof’s statue from outside Centennial Hall to a nearby museum where it could sit along with a much more accurate description of his life? My guess is many people would contribute to a Go Fund Me campaign to cover the cost. 

What about the historical significance of Baranof? Yes, he came to Sitka, and yes, he certainly made an impact, which is why he deserves a place in our history books. However, Baranof was a colonist who came here, without invitation, to enrich himself and his company. In 1804 he gave the order to fire cannons at the Tlingit people who have lived here for over 10,000 years, so he does not deserve a place of honor. Besides, statues are not great ways of teaching the history of men like Baranof. 

On Saturday night an e-petition to remove Baranof’s statue was launched; as of this morning 851 people have signed it. After reading the reason for signing comments, I’m more convinced than ever that removal is our best path forward. I apologize to all my Native neighbors who expressed understandable outrage at the indignity of having to walk by a likeness of the man who led an attack on your ancestors, while going to a public meeting in your own hometown. 

Thanks for considering this idea. I believe it could contribute to much needed racial healing.

Doug Osborne, Sitka 

 

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-10-20)

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 noon Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 51

Total statewide – 1,323

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 5 (2 resident; 3 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 13 (11 resident; 2 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 80.

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. 

 

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

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The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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