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Before European settlement, the Gastineau Channel was a fishing ground for the A’akw Kwáan and Taku tribes. The A’akw Kwáan had a village and burial ground here, now known as Indian Point. They continue to resist settlement of the area due to its being an important point in their traditions and being sacred in their culture. In 1794, Josph Whidbey, master of the Discovery during George Vancouver’s 1791 to 1795 expedition, explored the area. He viewed the Gastineau Channel and said it was not navigable as it was filled with ice. After the California gold rush, miners began to explore up the coast seeking gold deposits. In 1880, Geoge Pilz, a mining engineer, offered a reward to any local chief who could lead him to a gold deposit. Chief Kowee arrived with some ore and several prospectors were sent to investigate. The first trip found several deposits with little ore, but upon the chief’s pleading, Pilz sent Joe Juneau and Richard Harris back to the Gastineau Channel. They were directed to the Snow Slide Gultch where they found golden nuggets large enough to attract miners and a mining camp to be built in 1880. By 1881, so many miners had arrived that the camp became a village and was known as Rockwell, after Lieutenant Commander Charles Rockwell. Later it was renamed Harrisburg after prospector Richard Harris. Then on December 14, 1881, a meeting was held by 72 mining people who decided to name the settlement after Joe Juneau. In 1906, the decline of whaling and fur trade caused Sitka, the original capital of Alaska, to become less important and the territorial legislature moved the seat of government to Juneau. Construction of the capitol building began in 1929 after delay due to World War I. It was completed February 14, 1931 and dedicated as the Federal and Territorial Building. In 1910, the Public Building Act commissioned the construction of the Alaska Governors Mansion and the construction was completed in 1912.

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