Sitka (sĭtˈkə) [key], city (1990 pop. 8,588), Sitka census div., SE Alaska, in the Alexander Archipelago, on Baranof Island; inc. 1971. Fishing, its first industry, remains important; salmon, halibut, red snapper, crab, herring, abalone, and clams are caught. There are canneries, and tourism is also economically significant. Sitka was founded (1799) by Aleksandr Baranov. Destroyed by Tlingits in 1802, the settlement was rebuilt as Novoarkhangelsk and became the flourishing capital of Russian America. There, in 1867, the United States officially took possession of Alaska from Russia. Renamed after the purchase of Alaska, Sitka remained the capital until 1900. The Univ. of Alaska Southeast campus and Sheldon Jackson College are in the city. Points of interest include Sitka National Historical Park, scene of a decisive battle (1804) between the Russians and the Tlingit; the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Michael (built 1844–48); and Castle Hill, site of the transfer of Alaska to the United States, which is commemorated by the annual Alaska Day Festival in October. State logging championships are also held in Sitka. Mt. Edgecumbe, on an island to the west, can be seen from Sitka's harbor.
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