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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chukotka US-Russian Heritage Flag

Chukotka American-Rusian Heritage Flag

There is a supersize footnote that the Russians once colonized part of the United States.

Most know that Alaska was originally a Russian Colony and some know that California was host to the Russians near Sonoma County by San Francisco Bay.

But did you know that the United States also had colonies in Russia? Very short lived expeditions, yet longer than a year.


This is the Chukotka United States-Russian Heritage Flag. It is dedicated to America's short lived stint in Alaska's proverbial half brother - Chukotka. It follows the overall pattern of Chukotka's modern flag. However this shade of blue - navy blue - is taken after Alaska's flag with the yellow north star of Alaska. Instead of the federal colours of Russia in the yellow ring there are thirteen stripes reflective of the American flag - six red and seven white. Finally the white triangle is on the opposite side to indicate America's point of view.

Official Chukotka Flag in Russia

Chukotka is Russia's Alaska
or rather Alaska is America's Chukotka?


Perhaps the meekest of US-Russian colonies to fall into the cracks of history took place at the western end of Russia in Chukotka on Wrangel Island. Wrangel island is a small Asian Isle in the Arctic Ocean. It was long known to 'Inuit' peoples but the first written reference to this Arctic Ocean Island belongs to a Russian Cossak - Steven Andreyev in 1764.

The first US landing on the island took place on August 12, 1881 with the USRC Corwin. The USRC stands for United States Revenue Cutter Service which is the 'maiden' name of the US Coast Guard. The leader of the US expedition was Calivin L. Hooper who subsequently claimed the island for the United States and christened it - 'New Columbia.' Additionally famed first American Naturalist John Muir was a part of the expedition.

Original illustration by John Muir
with the modern 2012 Chukotka Flag added


In 1911 the Russian Government laid claim to the island, but in 1921 a joint US-Canadian team of colonists landed. By 1924 only one American and 13 Inuit were living in Chukotka and an Inuit anchor baby. But in 1924 American hopes on holding this frozen wonderland were dashed by the Soviet Union who evicted the 'American Colonist and US Wards.'

Afterwards the US Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughs made an overture for an American Reindeer CEO, Carl J. Lomen, to "go and hold it." But this American Enterprise only made as far as Herald Island, where a 48 starred US flag was raised and they later went home, gravely short of the intended target.


















Just as some lord over that Alaska was once Russian, the counter punch is that some of Russia - in this case Chukota - was in a juxtaposition semi-formally a part of the United States. Geographically speaking as Alaska is Russia's forlorn tundra of the USA, or rather parts of Chukota are America's forlorn icebox of Russia.


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