Sergei Kostromitinov was born in 1854 to a Russian employee of the Russian-American Company and a Creole woman. Fluent in Russian and English and conversant in several native languages, he became an interpreter for Alaska's American authorities and an indispensable cultural broker among the region's Euro-American, Russian-Creole, and native communities. Thanks to that role as well as his political skills and successful commercial activities, Kostrometinov became the leading Russian-American citizen of Sitka—Alaska's first capital—serving as the warden of its Orthodox cathedral as well as the president of the chamber of commerce, a lieutenant colonel in the territorial militia, the secretary of the local historical society, and so forth. This essay explores the strategies he used to maintain his privileged position within the local Euro-American elite without abandoning his Russian patriotism and commitment to Russian Orthodox Christianity. It also shows that the price of Kostrometinov's success was an almost total denial of his Creole ancestry and a certain estrangement from Sitka's Creole community.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.