Fishing and Salmon Canneries
Fish were a resource important to growth of the territory. For centuries, Alaskan Natives have depended on the return each spring and summer of millions of salmon to spawning beds in coastal rivers and streams. After American purchase of Alaska, San Francisco and Seattle businessmen were quick to see profits in marketing salmon. The first canneries were established at Sitka and Klawock in 1878.
By 1929, there were 159 canneries on the Pacific and Bering Sea coasts, packing over 5 million cases of salmon each year. Conflict marked these decades. Domination of the industry by outside investors, employment of non-resident workers rather than local fishermen, use of fish traps, and loss of salmon for local harvest fueled the conflict. Only with statehood did Alaska gain a measure of control over these resources.