By Gerald McBeath
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Additional resources for Alaska State Government & Politics (Alaska Historical Commission Studies in History)
The setting of Alaska government is distinctive not only in its vast geography, regional variations, and extremes of climate, but also in its social and political Page xiv dimensions. The four chapters in Part One describe the aspects of the environment most directly relevant to the operation of institutions and processes of government in Alaska-history, constitution, political culture, and state-federal relations. Chapter 1, by Claus-M. Naske, discusses the history of Alaska from the first contacts between Western explorers and Alaska Natives to statehood.
Other values and rules, however, call for respect for regions, historical forces, and minority ethnic communities. These tensions and conflicts pervade Alaska politics. The issue of centralization versus decentralization concerns the locus of power and control. Originally, this issue involved the relationship between Alaska and the federal government. After statehood, the issue shifted to the question ot the proper amount of power at the state level-how centralized should state government be? This question figured in several plans for decentralization of state services, as the new state agencies decided how to establish offices and deliver services over the far-flung regions of the state.
5 Seward's prophecy and the expectations of Sitka's inhabitants went unrealized. Congress did pass legislation to protect the fur seals in 1870, but did not concern itself with the north in a major fashion until 1884. In the meantime, Army troops left Alaska in 1877 after experts at congressional budget hearings testified that the soldiers were of no use in Alaska and merely represented an unnecessary expense. Furthermore, the troops were needed to aid in suppressing the uprising of Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce Indian tribe in the Pacific Northwest.