Last updated: April 8, 2020
The American Flag Raising Site (Castle Hill) in Sitka is significant as the location of the formal transfer of Russian America to the United States on October 18, 1867. This marked the Nation's first expansion into non-contiguous territory. The site is also important as the seat of the Russian-American Company in Alaska ca. 1806-1867 and as the place where the first official raising of the forty-nine star national flag in Alaska occurred.
In 1804, Alexander Baranov, the first governor of Russian-America, launched an attack on Castle Hill, in an effort to secure it from the Kiksadi clan of the Tlingits for a trading site. The Kiksadi had withdrawn from the Hill and after several days of unsuccessful negotiations a six-day battle ensued, which resulted in the Russians seizing and burning the Kiksadi’s fort. Russians occupied the Castle Hill site from this time on, and, when the administrative headquarters of the Russian-American Company in Alaska transferred from Kodiak to Sitka about 1806, the location became the seat of government. It remained the seat of the Russian Government in Alaska until 1867.
On the afternoon of October 18, 1867, Brigadier General Lovell H. Rousseau, representing the United States, and Alexei Pestchouroff, Commissioner of the Tsar, met near the foot of the flagstaff in front of the Governor's House on Castle Hill. Detachments of American and Russian troops were drawn up on the parapet next to the building. The Russian flag was lowered; the United States was raised; and a brief exchange of statements completed the formal transfer of an area as large as Sweden, Finland, and Denmark combined.