Alexei Chirikov was born in 1703. In 1715, he entered navigation school in Moscow. In 1716, he was transferred as gardemarin (a junior officer rank established in the Russian fleet in 1716 for pupils of the Naval Academy) to the St Petersburg Naval Academy. He graduated successfully in 1721 with excellent results in sciences and was raised to the rank of under-lieu-tenant. In 1722-1725, he taught navigation. On January 20, 1725, he gained the rank of lieutenant and was directed to join the First Kamchatka expedition of Vitus Bering. He became superintendent of the St Petersburg Naval Academy, and by September 5,1747 he was ranked captain-commander. He died in Moscow in December 1748.

Anna Shishigina

See also Bering, Vitus; Second Kamchatka Expedition

Further Reading

Divin, V.A., Velikiy russkiy moreplavatel A.I. Chirikov, Moscow, 1953; as The Great Russian Seafarer ?.I. Chirikov, Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1993 Frost, A.W. (editor), Bering and Chirikov: The American Voyages and Their Impact, Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Historical Society, 1992

Lebedev, D.M., Plavanie A.I. Chirikova napecketbote "Svyatoy Pavel" kpoberezhjam Ameriki [Navigation of A.I. Chirikov with packetship St Paul to the coasts of America], Moscow: Izd-vo Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1951 Pasezkiy, V.M., Russkie otkrytiya v Arktike [Russian opening in

The Arctic Region], St Petersburg: Admiralteistvo, 2000 Pokrovskii, A. (editor), Ekspeditsiia beringa: sbornik dokumen-tov [The Bering Expeditions: collection of documents], Moscow, 1941


Choris is the name of an archaeological culture from northwestern Alaska dating to between about 3500 and 2500 years ago. It is regarded by many as a phase of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition, derived at least in part from Denbigh Flint Complex. The type site is Choris Peninsula in the southern portions of Kotzebue Sound, but other sites are known from Cape Krusenstern just north of Kotzebue Sound, Walakpa on the coast just south of Barrow, Onion Portage on the Kobuk River, Trail Creek Caves on Seward Peninsula (called Middle Trail Creek), and along the Noatak River. Little is yet known of Choris settlement patterns, except that, as evidenced at the type site, some Choris groups lived year round at the coast. This is the earliest evidence of full coastal life from any of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition complexes. The Choris house form is semi-subterranean and oval in floor plan, which contrasts with the rectangular semi-subterranean house forms characteristic of all of the later Norton and postNorton cultures in northwestern Alaska. Three of the large oval houses were found at the type site and another smaller one at Onion Portage; all of the other known Choris sites lack semi-subterranean houses, but are rather characterized by campsites. The oval houses at the type site were large constructions with heavy interior logs for roof and wall supports. The interior arrangement of one of the three houses included a central hearth, but the other houses may have been heated and lighted by lamps. The large size of the houses suggests occupation by more than single families. The house at Onion Portage was a more flimsy elongated bent pole frame construction with a single large central hearth and a short entrance passageway along one long side.

The cultural inventory of the Choris people is varied. It includes stone lamps, ground slate knife and ulu blades, a wide variety of chipped stone implements, and both plain and decorated organic artifacts. Many of the chipped stone implements in Choris are weapon points hafted directly to wooden spears, or insets haft-ed to antler heads. Stylistically, the small chipped stone weapon parts relate to the earlier Denbigh Flint Complex from the same region, but the other stone tools have few local predecessors. The ornamented organic artifacts include an ivory labret, or lip plug, which suggests cultural links to southwestern Alaska, an ivory human figurine, and amber beads. Of particular interest, pottery was introduced into the American Arctic by the Choris people. Pottery from earlier Choris campsites such as at Cape Krusenstern is primarily cord-marked, but the sherds are too small to determine vessel shape. Choris pottery from the type site, which dates to about 2600 years ago and is thus relatively late in the Choris sequence, includes fiber-tempered pottery vessels with round or conical bases. Their exterior surfaces were decorated with linear- and check-stamped designs.

The time of Choris culture also marks a period in northwestern Alaskan prehistory when Denbigh Flint-derived cultures began to differentiate regionally throughout northwest Alaska, especially in the Kotzebue Sound region. Reasons for this regionaliza-tion effort may be that global environmental changes of the period had produced a greater variability in the regional climate to which different local groups of post-Denbigh peoples had to adapt. On the other hand, at Walakpa and in the interior tundra regions of the Arctic Slope, Choris culture shows a greater continuity directly out of Denbigh.

Depending on the region, the Choris people subsisted primarily on seals, caribou, and waterfowl. Curiously, even at the type site on the coast, caribou account for the majority of the faunal remains.

Douglas D. Anderson

See also Arctic Small Tool Tradition; Denbigh Flint Culture; Giddings, Louis

Further Reading

Giddings, J.L., Ancient Men of the Arctic, New York: Knopf, 1965

Giddings, J.L. & D.D. Anderson, Beach Ridge Archeology of Cape Krusenstern, Washington, District of Columbia: Government Printing Office, 1986


The Chugach Mountains, Alaska, are centered near 61.5° N and 147° W. They form a 500 km crescent from just east of Anchorage to the St Elias Mountains and are about 50 km inland from Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. The highest peak in the range is Mt Marcus Baker at 4016 m.

Steep, rugged mountains with many active glaciers are typical of the region. The mountains had more extensive glaciers during the Pleistocene epoch. Geologic formations of Cretaceous and Upper Jurassic sediments occur extensively and Tertiary to Cretaceous intrusive rocks occur in the southeastern portion. There is isolated permafrost primarily on the northern slopes. A destructive March 1964 earthquake was centered at Miner's Lake, west of Columbia Glacier, and resulted in a local land offset of 13 m. Streams are short and swift with their origins in glaciers. The large Copper River bisects the range east of Cordova. Lakes lie in ice-carved basins.

The climate is heavily influenced by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Maritime influences dominate the southern half of the range while the northern slopes are more continental with colder winters, warmer summers, and less precipitation. Storms from the Gulf of Alaska produce heavy precipitation. Rain falls at lower elevations in summer, but snow is common throughout the range from October through May. At Snowshoe Lake (700 m elevation) on the north side of the mountains, the average January temperature is -23°C, the July average is 12°C, and annual precipitation is 300 mm. At sea level on the more maritime south side of the mountains, the January and July averages at Valdez are -5°C and 13°C, respectively, and the average precipitation is 1660 mm. The average annual snowfall at Valdez is 7700 mm. Snowfall at higher elevations of the Chugach Mountains may be among the greatest in the world with an average of over 20,000 mm. Perennial snow exists above 1000 m elevation. The average annual snowfall at Thompson Pass (845 m elevation) is 14,010 mm, the greatest at any weather station in Alaska, and 24,750 mm fell in the winter of 1952-1953. The average annual precipitation in the mountains is 2000-4000 mm.

Lower elevations below treeline at 200-600 m elevation are dominated by coniferous forests of Tsuga heterophylla (hemlock), Abies lasiocarpa (subalpine fir), and Picea sitchensis (Sitka spruce). Dwarf shrubs of Phyllodoce aleutica (mountain heath) and alpine tundra cover the upper slopes where glacial ice is absent. Moose, Dall's sheep, mountain goat, brown bears, black bears, wolves, and smaller mammals live in the region and salmon are found in streams. There is a history of mining for gold, copper, lead, zinc, and silver, and significant reserves remain.

Human habitation is limited to the lowest elevations surrounding the Chugach Mountains. The region is home to the Native Chugach and Eyak peoples. Captain James Cook explored Prince William Sound in 1778. The passes of the Chugach Mountains were traversed by miners after 1898 who sailed into Prince William Sound destined for the Klondike and Eagle gold fields. Copper mining was common in the region by the early 20th century. Valdez is the largest community in the region with a 2001 population of 4336 (Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development). The Trans-Alaska Pipeline carries oil from the Arctic Slope to Valdez across the Chugach

Mountains and the oil terminus provides many jobs in Valdez.

Thomas W. Schmidlin See also Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Further Reading

Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development website: Burns, L.E., Geology of the Chugach Mountains, Southcentral Alaska, Fairbanks: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 1991 Nelson, Steven & Marti Miller, Assessment of Mineral Resource Tracts in the Chugach National Forest, Alaska, Open-File Report 00-026, Anchorage: US Geological Survey, 2000

Orth, Donald, Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, US Geological Survey Professional Paper 567, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1967 Simmerman, Nancy Lange, Alaska's Parklands, The Complete

Guide, Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1991 Sirkin, L. & S.J. Tuthill, "Late Pleistocene and Holocene deglaciation and environments of the southern Chugach Mountains, Alaska." Geological Society of America Bulletin, 99(3), 1987: 376-384 Sturm, M., D.K. Hall, C.S. Benson & W.O. Field, "Non-climatic control of glacier-terminus fluctuations in the Wrangell and Chugach Mountains, Alaska, USA." Journal of Glaciology, 37(127), 1991: 348-356


The Chukchi live in the extreme northeastern part of the Siberian Arctic (Russia). According to the 1989 Soviet census, the Chukchi number 15,100, located mostly in the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug (12,000), and partly in northeastern Yakutia (1300) and northern Kamchatka (1500). Chukchi constitute the most numerous indigenous group of the autonomous region (okrug) of Chukotka, which was named after them.

The English appellation "Chukchi" comes from the Russian designation Chukcha (singular), Chukchanka (feminine), Chukchi (plural), which is supposed to be a derivation of the herders' ethnonym or self-name. Traditionally, Chukchi are divided into two groups, depending on their means of subsistence: nomadic reindeer herders who designate themselves by the eth-nonym Chavchu (ch, is often pronounced s), and sea mammal hunters who use the appellation Ank'alyn (ank'y, the sea). As a people, Chukchi call themselves Lyg'oravetl'an (lyg, "by excellence," "which is really ours," and o'ravetl'an, a "human being"), sometimes translated as "real men."

The Chukchi language belongs to the Paleo-Asiatic, also called Paleo-Siberian, group. This classification links together languages that cannot be connected either to Uralic or to Altaic families. Within this category, linguists make a distinction between the

Chukchi family stand by their canvas tent, Yanrakynnot, Chukotka.

Copyright Bryan and Cherry Alexander Photography

Chukchi family stand by their canvas tent, Yanrakynnot, Chukotka.

Copyright Bryan and Cherry Alexander Photography

Chukchi-Kamchadal group, termed "luorawetlan" by Vladimir Il'ich Iokhel'son (Jochelson) and including the Chukchi, Koryak, and Itel'men languages. Koryak and Chukchi are closely related and almost mutually understandable. Their culture, social organization, and economy are also similar. The Chukchi language was considered the lingua franca in Chukotka until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1931, the State Committee on the North created a Latin transcription of the Chukchi language, originally oral, followed in 1937 by a Cyrillic transcription. Chukchi is an agglutinative language, with male- and female-specific rules of pronunciation (for instance, "r" becomes "s" or "ts" for women, as in rygryg/sygsyg—hair). Today, the use of Chukchi is decreasing with the growth of Russian.

Chukchi people are one of the few indigenous populations of the Far North that slowly increased in the 18th century. As they were more isolated, they did not suffer as much as Koryak or Itel'men from successive epidemics brought by the Russians. The first official census of 1897 reported 11,751 people. Despite a slow decrease in population in the 1950s, the Chukchi population increased from the 1970s.

Chukchi became a minority in their own territory in the 1930s: while in 1926, 93.4% of the inhabitants of Chukotka were natives, in 1937, only ten years later, they represented 47% of the total population. In 1989, they represented even less than 10% (Chukchi, 7.27%). However, as settlers have been leaving northeast Siberia since the 1990s, the proportion of natives has again increased (around 25% in 2001).

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