Young Adult Fiction posted October 29, 2015 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 


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The U. S. buys Russia out

A chapter in the book SPIRIT BASKET

Scene 5: Coming of America

by Alaskastory



Background
Jared, a teenage boy, delivers his ancestor Spirit Basket to a museum and tells the stories it holds. Over 270 years each generation had ways greatly changed by strangers coming into Alaska.
FADE AWAY to University of Alaska campus and museum.

INT. DR. LEE'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

DR. LEE
Amazing how Father Ioann Veniaminov was such an outstanding missionary priest. In history and today in Russia, he is revered as Saint Innocent of Alaska.

JARED
He traveled in Russia, but returned to New Archangel in the 1840's.

DR. LEE
Oh, but in 1867 the name of that town was changed.

JARED
Sitka. That's what America renamed the capital city. 7.2 million U.S. dollars bought Alaska from Russia.

DR. LEE
Then was Mikhail still there?

JARED
Yes, he settled in the Indian village with a Tlingit wife named Neva. They had children named Annarovia and Taku. This was a turbulent time.

EXT. DIRT STREETS CROWED WITH SOLDIERS AND THE PUBLIC - AFTERNOON

It is October 18, 1867, the sun beginning to set over the seaside town. Teenager, Annarovia, and her mother, Neva, are dressed in artfully beaded deerskin dresses and moccasins. Their heads turn toward the top of the hill where the Governor, his wife and five children await near a flagpole. The Russian Imperial flag hangs limply overhead.

NEVA
This is a frightening day. We shall lose the good Governor Prince Dimitrii Petrovich Maksutov and his family.

ANNAROVIA
Oh, Mother, see how our beautiful princess holds her baby, looking so sad. Will the Russian Company move away when our land goes to America?

NEVA
(sigh of uncertainty)
Who knows?
(DRUMS begin beating)
Look, Russian sailors and soldiers are marching in.

PAN crowded streets

A Russian battalion marches through town. They stop at attention before the Prince near the flagpole.

ANNAROVIA
More drumming now. Looks like two American Generals leading soldiers.

Over 200 American soldiers trail two Generals and come to a stop before the flagpole. Russians soldiers hold out the rope to use for descending the flag. A sudden BOOM fractures the air. Cannon fire from Ossipee, an American ship in the harbor. Russian cannon fire on shore answers. The flag begins to edge down.

ANNAROVIA
(holding hands over her ears)
Cannons first and now the American soldiers are firing their rifles.

Deafening, round after round are fired. The pungent scent of spent gunpowder washes over the crowd. Abruptly, firing stops. A stunned silence falls over all.

NEVA
Look how they must struggle to lower the Russian Imperial flag.

ANNAROVIA
It is stuck. They can't get it untangled.

A Russian soldier flips the pulley rope, but can't free the flag. Another soldier gives him a boost on his shoulders. With the slash of a knife the flag falls. It catches enough breeze to float over Russian soldiers and settle on the points of raised bayonets.

NEVA
(clinging to her daughter)
This is surely an omen.

ANNAROVIA
(gasping)
Princess Maksutova has fainted.

The ceremony stops as a doctor bends over the princess in a black satin gown. She is revived and weakly returns to her royal chair.

ANNAROVIA
What omen is it, Mother?

NEVA
Trouble. Much trouble may come.

An American General shouts a command and his soldiers quickly raise the flag of the United States of America.

EXT. CAMP IN DARKNESS - EVENING

Neva and Annarovia return to the Indian village a short distance from town. In front of their wooden home, Mikhail is chopping wood.

MIKHAIL
(giving hugs to his wife and daughter)
How was the ceremony?

NEVA
Noisy and a bit scary.
(she goes on inside their home)

ANNAROVIA
The American general gave a speech and his soldiers cheered. But when the royal family rode away, no one else seemed happy at all.

MIKHAIL
(smiling at his daughter)
Fishermen don't like the town name getting changed from New Archangel to just plain Sitka?

ANNAROVIA
Mother says it's because Russia needed American money to pay for some war they are fighting.

MIKHAIL
That's what they say. We are sure to miss having The Russian Company here. So many people will be sailing back to Russia.

ANNAROVIA
I hope not Mrs. Petrokov. I need my teacher. She shows a map with many places in Alaska. Russians are everywhere over the land.

MIKHAIL
(thoughtfully pointing toward the thick forest)
This is Sitka Island. Long ago my father, Richard, was here when Chief Sha-yut-leit traded land with Lord Baranov and the town was built.

ANNAROVIA
You told me so many wonderful stories about working with Father Veniaminov. Now I want to know more about other places in Alaska.

MIKHAIL
(giving his daughter a hug)
Ask your teacher when you see her tomorrow.

INT. CLASSROOM IN TOWN - AFTERNOON

At the end of the school day a few students file out the classroom door leaving Annarovia and the teacher. Annarovia busily cleans up the room, rubs a cloth over the blackboard.

ANNAROVIA
Mrs. Petrorov, How could America buy this land when it belongs, not to them, but to my people?

MRS. PETROROV
(chuckles and pats the girl's glossy black hair)
My dear girl, you must remember that Indians are not allowed to own land. Not by the Americans.

ANNAROVIA
But why? Because we don't speak the English language?

MRS. PETROROV
(brushes chalk dust from her long skirt)
Indians are not considered civilized. But Annarovia, I find you very bright. You have learned Russian words. It will be good for you to learn English too.

ANNAROVIA
Will learning to read and write English make it possible to own my own land?

MRS. PETROROV
(sighing wearily)
Speaking the language of America may win you a man one day who owns land.

ANNAROVIA
Oh, no. I will die before marrying an American. They brought smallpox here and they trade rum with my people.

MRS. PETROROV
I agree. This land has been cursed. Our good Russian laws have been thrown out. When there is no more protection only the strongest will survive, Annarovia. You must hurry home now.

ANNAROVIA
(at the door she glances back at her teacher)
I wonder what will become of us.

EXT. ON THE EDGE OF THE FOREST, VILLAGE BEGINS - AFTERNOON

Annarovia stops to gaze with pride at the village. In front of her house her father, Mikhail, is carving on a totem pole.

ANNAROVIA
(smiling)
Father, is that massive log the cedar tree you told me about?

MIKHAIL
Since there is no cedar trees here, I had this log shipped far from the south. Cedar lasts through years of rain. It will be the first totem in Sitka and will tell the story of your mother's family.

ANNAROVIA
You ~are starting a new tradition for Tlingit people?

Loud woman's scream followed by men shouting out curses.

MIKHAIL
Anna, run to the house. Now!

Annarovia runs across the clearing and into her home.

INT. HOME FURNISHED WITH HANDMADE CHAIRS, TABLE - AFTERNOON



Taku, her eight-year-old brother is crouched under the table holding a long steel-blade knife.

ANNAROVIA
Taku! What are you doing?

NEVA
(grips sewing needle and takes rapid stitches)
Your brother wants to protect. Drunken soldiers wander the village, making threats.

Annarovia slumps to the floor stretching trembling arms around her mother. Shouts from outside fade. Mikhail enters.

MIKHAIL
We persuaded them to leave. Hunta had a rifle.
(takes knife from Taku)

TAKU
Wish I had a rifle like Hunta.

NEVA
(reassuring, motherly voice)
Rifles are for hunting deer, not men.

MIKHAIL
No man in the village believes that any longer. Danger grows from American soldiers. Hunta speaks of an Indian army.

ANNAROVIA
Good. It's time our people take possession of the land. The land is ours.

MIKHAIL
People cannot own the land, the rivers or the sea. Those are only our friends.

Months later. Late December.

EXT. OUTSIDE THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH - MORNING

Annarovia finds the classroom door locked, knocks. No answer. She goes to the front entrance of the church and the door is ajar. A window is broken.

SOLDIER 1
(voice behind her)
Hey, Little Girl. Don't go in. There's been damage inside.

SECOND SOLDIER
Sorry to tell you some drunks got in there and went wild.

ANNAROVIA
(shaking with fright but speaks English)
Priest? My teacher? Where are they?

SOLDIER 1
I suspect they sailed out on the Nena last night.

SECOND SOLDIER
A couple hundred sailed out of here for Russia on the high tide. Too bad because the American congress granted them land if they stayed.

SOLDIER 1
Sure sad they were scared away by rampagers. Well, this time they tore up a church. The General just has to do something about that.

He kneels down and speaks gently to the girl whose eyes are fixed on his muddy boots.

SOLDIER 1
You run along home now, Little Miss. There's nothing for you here.

Annarovia turns away and walks slowly home on a snow-covered path.

INT. HOME FURNISHED WITH HANDMADE CHAIRS, TABLE - MORNING

ANNAROVIA
(as she enters calls out)
Father Petrokov has taken his family away. They sailed without saying good-bye.

TAKU
What did they go for?

NEVA
I heard the good Father was called to the cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

ANNAROVIA
(with tears she falls to her mother's knees)
Fear made them leave. Sitka is no longer safe.

NEVA
(wiping daughter's cheek with a cloth)
It is safe here in the village.

TAKU
Thanks to Hunta. Americans are afraid to come here. Everybody will see that tomorrow at the potlatch.

NEVA
The totem pole is to be celebrated by all clans. The Eagles and Ravens will come from upriver. Anna, there are geese, salmon and berries for us to prepare.
(she hands Annarovia a big woven basket)

ANNAROVIA
(lifting the lid she inhales deeply)
There will be feasting, music, dancing.

NEVA
All will be strong, powerful, ancient, enduring.

ANNAROVIA
(smiling)
Mother, when all the clans come together, there will be many more warriors than all of the American soldiers. They will always protect our village.

FADE AWAY to University of Alaska campus and museum.

INT. DR. LEE'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

DR. LEE
The American government was full of conflict and slow to adjust on how to govern the Territory of Alaska.

JARED
Then gold rush happened and that made U.S. officials pay more attention to Alaska. In 1900, Annarovia's son named Peter let gold become his life.





This screenplay is based on my novel, The Spirit Basket, that begins in 1745 and ends in 2015. Each scene depicts what a teenager may have actually experienced in times of struggle.
Many thanks for the Totem illustration by Mr. Jones.

Family Tree: (so far)
Fairbanks - Jared Sheikov, tells story to Dr. Lee
Attu Island - 1745 Angayuk and Ruuwaq, sons of village chief
Aleutian Island - 1770: Tumgax, son of Angayuk and Machxisa
Kodiak - 1794: Irina, daughter of Tumgax and Morava
New Archangel - 1834: Mikhail Zanskar, son of Irina and Richard
Sitka - 1867: Annarovia Zanskar, daughter of Mikhail and Neva
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