Shelekhov, Grigori Ivanovich [key], 1747–95, Russian fur trader in North America, b. Rylsk, Ukraine. He had built up a large fur business in Siberia when profitable trading ventures in the Aleutian Islands led to his resolve to open a new fur-trading area. In 1783–84 he led a company to Kodiak Island and at Three Saints Bay founded the first permanent European settlement in Alaska. From there the mainland was explored, and other fur-trade centers were established. In 1786, Shelekhov set out for Russia, unsuccessfully seeking a grant to his company of monopoly of the fur trade. To manage his interests in Alaska he dispatched (1790) Aleksandr Baranov, who later dominated affairs there. Shelekhov's company was the nucleus for the Russian American Company, which was formed several years after his death. His Journal of the Voyages … to the Coast of America in 1783–87 was published in London in 1795. The Shelikov Gulf is named for him.
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