Serbs in Alaska

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Alaskan Serbs
Срби на Аљасци
Srbi na Aljasci
Members of Serbian Society of Juneau.jpg
Members of the Serbian Society in Juneau in 1928
Regions with significant populations
Juneau, Sitka, Fairbanks, Ketchikan
English, Serbian
Serbian Orthodox
Related ethnic groups
Serbian American, Montenegrin Americans, Serbian Canadians

Alaskan Serbs are a subgroup of Serbian Americans who have settled in the state of Alaska.


Serbs (and Montenegrins) have lived in Alaska since the earliest days of American settlement in the 19th century. Many Serbs came in the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s to seek fortune, just like they had done in the earlier California Gold Rush.

The primary areas of Serbian and Montenegrin settlement were Juneau, Fairbanks, and Sitka. Many Serbs settled in the Canadian Yukon during the gold rush as well, such as legendary prospector Black Mike Vojnić.

In 1893, Serbian miners in Alaska built the Orthodox Church in Juneau alongside the native Orthodox Tlingit people, who had been converted to Orthodoxy by the Russians decades before.[1][2]. By World War I there were two Serbian societies established in Juneau for the preservation of Serbian customs and heritage in Alaska.[3] In 1905 a newspaper called "The Serbian Montenegrin" was founded in Douglas.[4]

Serbs also made up a large amount of the miners at the Treadwell gold mine until its collapse in 1917 and subsequent closure in 1922. In 1907, during the union conflicts involving the Western Federation of Miners, two Serb miners were killed in an underground shaft; one was a union member, one was not. The funeral procession for the nonunion man was accompanied by a march from the Serbian Slavonic Hall and they ran into the union group of Serbs. The union Serbs demanded the nonunion deceased not be buried in the same cemetery, and some two hundred Serbs of both sides filled the streets. The U.S. Marshal and neutral townsmen had to calm the group in order for the funeral procession to continue.[5] In 1910, there was a massive explosion on the 1,100 foot level of the Mexican mine at Treadwell. 39 men were killed, 17 of whom were Serbian.[6]

During the First World War, many Serbian Americans volunteered to fight overseas, with thousands coming from Alaska.[7]

The St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Juneau, which was built by Serbs and Tlingit natives.

In 1930s and 40s Fairbanks, Yugoslav immigrants, mainly Serbs and Montenegrins, owned a great amount of businesses and bars in the city. In between the world wars, many Serbian Alaskan men returned to Yugoslavia to find brides and bring them back to Alaska to start families.[8]

Today there is a vibrant Serbian community, particularly in Juneau, but Serbs can be found across the state. There is even a Serbian restaurant in remote Healy.[9]

Recently, it has become commonplace for Serbian workers to come to Alaska annually to work for a few months in canneries, where food and accommodation is provided. These workers stay on temporary work visas, and speak English.[10]

Notable people

External links

  • About the notable Alaskan Serb Dapcevich family


  1. ^ [1]"The History of the St Nicholas Church." St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church - Home. Orthodox Church in America, n.d. Web. 10 June 2017.
  2. ^ Archer, Laurel. Northern British Columbia Canoe Trips. Surrey, B.C.: Rocky Mountain, 2010. Print.
  3. ^ Arnold, Kathleen R. "The Mining Frontier and Other Migrations." Contemporary Immigration in America a State-by-state Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2015. 28-29. Print.
  4. ^ Nicolson, Mary C.; Slemmons, Mary Anne (1998). Alaska Newspapers On Microfilm, 1866-1998. Fairbanks/Juneau: University of Alaska Fairbanks/Alaska State Library. pp. 63–64.
  5. ^ Kelly, Sheila. "Labor Troubles and the Western Federation of Miners." Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. Fairbanks: U of Alaska, 2010. 143. Print.
  6. ^ Kelly, Sheila. "Tough Grind of the Hard-Rock Miner." Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. Fairbanks: U of Alaska, 2010. 110. Print.
  7. ^ Serb World. 5–6. Neven Publishing Corporation. 1988. p. 40.
  8. ^ Ferguson, Judy. "Interior Immigrants: From a Tiny Country to the Great Land." Heartland Magazine 21 Mar. 1999: n. pag. Print.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Man from Belgrade Earned Serbian Annual Salary in Alaska in 55 Days." N.p., 5 Jan. 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.

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