Alaska: 25 Years of Statehood

Archive Report

Development vs. Environment

Attraction of the ’Last Frontier’ Image

The Importance of the frontier has been a central theme of American history since 1893, the year historian Frederick Jackson Turner first spelled out his theory on how the receding frontier helped create American democracy.1 The frontier has long since vanished in most of the United States, but there is one state in which some elements of the frontier remain: Alaska.

Alaska's vast, resource-rich, but barely explored areas are located in some of the most inhospitable wilderness regions of the world — one reason why President Reagan recently praised residents of the state as “the conquerors of the last frontier.”2 In his 1980 book on Alaska, author Joe McGinness explained the meaning of the “last frontier” label: “For ...

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