Discovering a Lost Fort in Sitka

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Cannon fire boomed across shallow tidal flats separating the Russian frigate Neva and the thick-walled Tlingit fort Shís’gi Noow (Sapling Fort). Inside, over 1,000 Tlingits prepared for a Russian ground assault. It was 1804 and Alexander Baranov, chief manager of the Russian-American Company, had returned to Sitka Sound to reestablish the newest Russian colony on the northwest coast, eventually to become Novoarkhangel’sk (New Archangel or Sitka), the capital of Russian America. This battle was one of the most historically significant events of Russia’s New World colonization and Alaska Native resistance.

Until 2019 however, the Tlingit fort’s exact location was unknown. Modern archeological techniques used in a survey by Thomas

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