Natasha was the first white woman to live in Alaska. She was the wife of the first Russian manager of the Alaskan territory, Gregory Shelikof.. In 1783 three ships carrying 192 men and one woman sailed to Russian America. Natasha was that woman. In 1784 they arrived on Kodiak Island. Her husband immediately set about to found Kodiak colony, subdue the natives, and just generally establishing the Russian presence.
The next year exploring parties were sent out to Prince William Sound. They returned with quite a few good furs. Natasha accompanied one of these expeditions. She endured great trials on this trip. Her husband wrote of this trip:
"On January 27, 1787 on a sledge drawn by dogs, I came to Okhotzk. In the same kind of conveyance I left Okhotzk on the 8th of February in company with my wife, pursued my way, sometimes with reindeer, horses, oxen, encountering the most tremendous dangers and suffering inexpressible hardships."
After this was accomplished Natasha began to instruct the native women. She taught them a lot about manners, and cleanliness. But she did not succeed in getting rid of polygamy. She wrote:
|"It but rarely happens that a man has two wives; but it is very common thing for a beautiful woman to have two or three husbands; who, in that case, are never jealous of one another, but live on the best of terms and in perfect harmony."|
© Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Beckett and Sarah Teel
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