Treasure Chest
Leaving Protection
Leaving Protection

Resources for history of the Russians in Alaska, contact Sitka National Historic Park. Mailing address is: Sitka National Historical Park, attention: Chief of Interpretation and Education, P.O. Box 738, Sitka, AK 99835 Phone: (907) 747-6281 or (907) 747-0121

To learn all about the possession plaques, ask for the reprint from Alaska State Museums Concepts, Technical Paper Number 5, November 1991: “Symbols of Russian America—Imperial Crests and Possession Plates in North America.” They have a brochure on the Bishop’s House and a general one on the Sitka Historical Park (Sitka—Official Map and Guide). It includes background on the Tlingits and Russians, with a full color photo of the double-headed eagle crest and a painting of the 1802 Tlingit rebellion.

There have been many articles in magazines and newspapers about the plight of wild salmon, threatened by the “big business” of salmon farming, habitat loss, and other factors. Research “salmon farming” or “farmed salmon” on the internet to get started. Be sure to also research “Alaskan salmon—commercial fishing.” At the time of this writing, there is no salmon farming in Alaskan waters, so all salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” are wild, and are regulated to protect their numbers. Virtually all “Atlantic salmon” available in grocery stores today are farmed, and the labeling should indicate that.


Bullet Create an enlarged map of the area where this story takes place and follow Robbie’s journey, using colored pins or a small replica of the Storm Petrel that you can move around.
Bullet Imagine that Robbie had kept a journal the entire time he was fishing with Tor. As you read the story, write what you think his entries might have been.
Bullet Robbie and Tor were fishing for king salmon, one species of Pacific salmon. Learn more about all the different species of Pacific salmon and their life cycles. Come up with some interesting ways to present this information: make a poster, create a power point presentation, make a collage with pictures, etc.
Bullet Re-read chapters nine and ten of the story, then discuss what might have happened had Rezanov lived and returned to marry Concha. How might the history, and the map, of western America turned out differently? You might also try writing your own short stories about Rezanov and Concha, perhaps with some different endings.
Bullet Robbie’s family lived “away from the power grid,” generating small amounts of electricity for their own use. Tor referred to them (p.24) as “a subsistence family.” What would it be like to live this way? How would it differ from students’ own lives? Discuss pros and cons of the life Robbie’s family has chosen.
Bullet Research salmon farming and its impact on wild salmon populations. Debate pros and cons. Try to think of ways to solve existing problems.
Resources and Ideas for Teaching Will's Novels
Bearstone and
The Big Wander
Changes in Latitudes
Crossing the Wire
Downriver and
River Thunder
Far North
Ghost Canoe
Go Big or Go Home
Jackie's Wild Seattle
Jason's Gold and
Down the Yukon
Kokopelli's Flute
The Maze
Never Say Die
Take Me to the River
Wild Man Island
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