1927 Alaska Education Native Schools

Locations of Natives Schools throughout Alaska 1927, US Geological Survey.

The first school in Alaska was established by the Russians on Kodiak Island in 1784. In 1884 the United States established the “District of Alaska” as a legal unit. Alaska received its first laws and funding for education from church missions. There were no formal schools yet.

1885-Dr. Sheldon Jackson is appointed as the general agent for education in Alaska.

1887-The first school is formed at Kotzebue and English is the only language allowed.

1890-First missions established in Alaska north of the Bering Strait.

1894-A Federal Bureau takes over the funding for mission schools.

1899-Local communities are authorized to set up local school boards.

1905-The Nelson Act provided for the establishment of schools for white children that are located out of incorporated towns.

1912-Alaska becomes a Territory with its own legislature and education becomes one of its responsibilities.

1926-A formal and permanent course of study for the grades 1-8 are established.


1931-Control of Native education is transferred to the Office of Indian Affairs. It became known as the Alaska Native Service.

1932-Wrangell Institute boarding school is opened by The Bureau of Indian Affairs. It will go on to earn an infamous reputation and was forced to close in 1975.

1947-Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school is opened by The Bureau of Indian Affairs and continues to this day.

Many Tlingit families willingly sent their children off to boarding schools so they could gain a quality education which the students did achieve, unfortunately some children were sent off to sub-standard boarding schools without their parents’ consent, and the experiences they had there turned out to be detrimental to the children who had to attend.

Cultural Narrative: 

As part of their culture the Tlingit knew how crucial education was for the survival of their people, whether it is traditional knowledge or modern.