Alaska Day -- October 18 -- is marked in Sitka like nowhere else.
In 1867, Russia sold the territory of Alaska to America for two cents an acre. In a ceremony in Sitka, Russia's flag went down, and the flat of the United States went up.
The U.S. gained a glut of resources from the purchase, the scale of which couldn't be recognized at the time. From timber, oil, fish, and minerals, to Cold War radar stations, modern missile defense, and a geopolitical presence in the Arctic, Alaska has returned America's $7.2 million investment many times over.
It was the beginning of a new era of colonialism in Alaska. The sale changed the lives of the indigenous people irreversibly, disenfranchising them from their land without compensation, and refusing them civil rights.
The federal government still owns more than two-thirds of the land within Alaska's borders. Most of it remains wilderness.
Though the anniversary is overlooked by most of the state (let alone country), Sitka marks Alaska Day each year, with events from a period costume ball and parade, to commemorations of loss and Kiks.adi sorrow songs.
After 150 years of American occupation, Alaska's history is still very raw.