The City and Borough of Juneau was established as a consolidated political entity in 1970. Its history is largely the combined histories of Douglas and the City of Juneau. Juneau is the capital of the State of Alaska.
The place we call Juneau [†] has always been an important economic and cultural center due to its location, ecosystem, abundant resources and people. Juneau lies within the homeland of the Auk Kwaan people who flourished for thousands of years before European contact. They were joined by Taku Tlingit from the north and later by Haida and Tsimshian people from the south, and by Asian and other migrants. Tlingit culture is organized into many clans or kwaan within a system of two moieties, Raven and Eagle.
Russian, Spanish, English and later American ships came to the region starting in 1741, when Captain Vitus Bering sailed a Russian ship here. Trading in seal and sea otter pelts drew these visitors, who named many of the landmarks in the region as they charted its coastline. Original Tlingit names for these places are still well known. Russian dominance over the region began with the establishment of the Russian America Company in 1799 in Sitka, the Capital of Russian America. Alaska was sold to the U.S. in 1867.
In 1880 Richard Harris and Joe Juneau, gold prospectors, arrived here and were shown to gold deposits in Last Chance Basin-Gold Creek by Tlingit leader Kowee. Tlingit people moved to town for the jobs that opened up with mining. Thousands of miners came to travel the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to the Klondike for gold exploration, later to work in the Treadwell, Alaska Juneau and smaller mines, until 1944 when the Alaska Juneau mine closed. By this time, Juneau's and Alaska's economies had diversified. The Capital moved from Sitka to Juneau in 1906. Territorial government expansion added construction jobs and new housing. World War II stimulated road construction and military expansion, including the Coast Guard here in Juneau and air transportation. Retail trade, fishing, and timber extraction guided by the United States Forest Service expanded.
In response to serious hardships imposed on the indigenous population by the incoming miners, prospectors, and other white settlers, the ANB (Alaska Native Brotherhood) and ANS (Alaska Native Sisterhood) were formed in 1912 to fight for economic, voting, and human rights including the right to be educated. In 1936, The Alaska Act led to the founding of Douglas Indian Association and the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, as federally recognized Alaska tribes.
† Comprehensive Plan of the City and Borough of Juneau, 2013, choosejuneau.org, accessed September, 2021.