Out of Harm's Way: Relocating Northwest Alaska Eskimos, 1907-1917, James H. Ducker
1 Some notable treatments of Euro-Americans' motives for relocating American Indians are Robert Winston Mardock, The Reformers and the American Indian (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1971); Robert A Trennert, Jr., Alternative to Extinction: Federal Indian policy and the Beginnings of the Reservation System, 1846-51 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975); Wilcomb E. Washburn, The Indian in America (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1975); and Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984).
2 Northwest Alaska, which is the focus of this study, is defined as the region draining into the Bering Sea between Unalakleet and Kivalina, including Diomede Island.
3 Dorothy Jean Ray, The Eskimos of the Bering Strait (Seattle: University of Washington Press, !975), 111-17; Ernest S Burch, Jr., Eskimo Kinsmen: Changing Family Relationships in Northwest Alaska (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1975), 14-20; William L Sheppard, Continuity and Change in Norton Sound: Historic Sites and their Contexts, Occasional Papers No. 37 (Fairbanks: Cooperative Park Studies Unit, 1983), 9-10, 15-25, 32-36, 61-63. For brief yet remarkably comprehensive summaries of the life of Eskimos of the area, see Ernest S. Burch, Jr., "Kotzebue Sound Eskimo", and Dorothy Jean Ray, "Bering Strait Eskimo," in Handbook of North American Indians, ed. William Sturtevant, vol. 5, Arctic, ed. David Damas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1984).
4 Ray, "Bering Strait Eskimo," 287; Burch, "Kotzebue Sound Eskimo," 304-305; Burch, "The Eskimo Trading Partnership in North Alaska: A Study in Balanced Reciprocity," Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska 15 (1970): 54.
5 John R Bockstoce, Whales, Ice, and Men: The history of Whaling in the Western Arctic (Seattle: University of ashington Press, 1986) 180-202, 232, 241-42, 252; Burch, The Traditional Eskimo Hunters of Point Hope, Alaska: 1800-1875 (North Slope Borough, 1981), 19.
6 Stephen Haycox, " 'Races of a Questionable Type': Origins of the Jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Education in Alaska, 1867-1885," Pacific Northwest Quarterly 75 (October 1984): 1565-63.
7 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1903, 58th Cong.,2dsess., H. Doc.5, 2346-47; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1905, 59th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc.5, xxxiv-xxxv, 281; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1907, 60th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc.5, 378-79, 382; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1909, 62nd Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc. 107, 1303-1304.
8 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1909, 1297-98; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1906, 59th Cong., 2d sess., H. Doc.5, xxiii; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1907, 383-384, 387, 395.
9 Harlan Updegraff to Mrs. R.H. Young, 3 February 1908, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75, National Archives (microfilm role 23, University of Alaska, Anchorage. Hereafter all correspondence not otherwise noted is from the microfilm of this record group.).
10 William T Hagan, "Reformers' Images of the Native Americans: The Late Nineteenth Century." In The American Indian Experience, A Profile: 1524 to the Present, ed. Philip Weeks (Arlington Heights, IL: Forum Press, Inc., 1988), 213-14.
11 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1907, 387,390.
12 A.N. Evans, Report, received 20 September 1909, roll 29.
13 The bureau tried to move natives from white communities elsewhere in Alaska. For example, the bureau's district superintendent for Alaska's southeast panhandle referred repeatedly to the undesirable effects on natives of their living in Juneau and the nearby community of Douglas. Despite numerous efforts to pry them out of these white communities, however, the bureau failed to get natives to leave.
The desire to separate natives from undesirable whites was also in evidence in the bureau's policy in Cook Inlet. In 1914 the agency conducted a study of where in Cook Inlet, near present day Anchorage, to establish a major school center. The study rejected two white communities on the east side of the inlet because they were populated with too many "debauching, bootlegging men." The bureau established a reserve at Tyonek on the west side of the inlet in 1915 and, in cooperation with the natives of the community, ousted white traders and either excluded white fishermen or leased their fishery to whites who paid a price. In the 1960s the Tyonek natives ultimately won a court case that allowed the reserve's natives to sell the rights to drill for oil and gas under the reserve for more than $12 million.
For the undesirability of Juneau and Douglas and efforts to get natives to leave, see, for example, W.G. Beattie to Commissioner of Education ( hereafter cited as CEd ),1 December 1911, 31 December 1912, 3 March 1913, 30 June 1914, and 30 June 1915, roll 43. For Tyonek, see Charles M. Robinson to W.T Lopp, 25 November 1914; Robinson to Lopp, 22 May 1915, Robinson to CEd, 30 June 1917; Miller to Lopp, telegram 31 May 1918; Lopp to Miller telegram 13 June 1918; David F. Dunagan to CEd, n.d.; and David F Dunagan to CEd, 30 June 1919, roll 25; David S. Case, Alaska Natives and American Laws (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1984), 91-92; and Darbyshire and Associates, Tyonek (Juneau: Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs 1981).
14 A.N. Evans, "Native Conditions at Nome," 7 July 1907, box 1, file "Natives (general)," entry 806, Record Group 75, National Archives: Carl S. Zook to E.E. Brown, 1 July 1908, roll 18; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1907,390; Walter H Johnson to CEd, 31(sic) June 1911, roll 18.
15 Wilbert Snow to CEd, 15 June 1912 and A.B. Kinne to CEd, 1 June 1910, roll 6.
16 Charles W. Hawkesworth to Elmer Ellsworth Brown, 23 may 1911, roll 6; A.N. Evans to W.T. Lopp, 10 December 1910, roll 6; A.N. Evans to CEd, 29 September 1908, roll 6; A. B> Kinne to CEd, 1 June 1910, roll 6.
17 Frances M. and L.G. Sickles to Gents, 15 October 1908, roll 21; Walter C. Shields, "Report on Candle 1913," received 2 July 1913; and Iva K. Tabor, "Annual Report," 29 June 1917, roll 3; Nome Semi-Weekly Nugget, 13 May 1905; Benjamin W Newsom to CEd, received 14 September 1910, roll 6.
18 Bertha S. Cox and Iva Kenworthy, "The Fifth Avenue Report," 31 May 1909; "Sixth Annual Report of the Deering Public School," 9 September 1909; and Martha Hunnicutt and Florence Pennok, Deering U.S. School Annual Report," noted 23 June 1913, roll 6.
19 Walter C Shields, "Report on Deering" , roll 6; Arthur O. Roberts, Tomorrow is Growing Old: Stories of the Quakers in Alaska ( Newberg, OR: Barclay Press, 1978), 266.
20 Walter C Shields to W.T. Loop, 8 December 1915, roll 7. Review of census manuscripts indicate the impact of the creation of schools. For example, in 1900 one hundred natives were spread along the Noatak River and 259 along the Selawik and its tributaries. Ten years later the census-taker found 114 of the 128 members of native households on the Noatak at the village of Noatak, and all of the 219 natives on the Selawik were recorded as residing in the village of Selawik.
21 Harrison Robertson Thornton, Among the Eskimos of Wales, Alaska, 1890-93 (1931; New York: AMS Press, 1976), 1971.
22 Burch, "Kotzebue Sound Eskimo," 311-312. Shields was concerned with the natives' passivity. At a reindeer fair in 1917, he quoted the Bible to urge them to "act like men, be strong." He chided the Inupiat for being weak and doing anything that whites told them. Tautuk, a leading herder, admitted the Eskimo people were weak. He was thankful for the better life reindeer herding afforded him but said that, had the people maintained their old reliance on hunting, they would be stronger because they would have to work harder. Moreover, English was the language of power -- "I always feel weak because I cannot read and I cannot talk like white people." Shields "Sermon" and Tautuk's response 25 March 1917, frames 691-93, 698, roll 33. According to Rachel Craig, an Inupiat of northwest Alaska, who has conducted oral interviews of elders of the region, natives received the teachers' urging to send their children to school, sometimes reinforced by exhortations of officers of the U.S. revenue cutter Bear, as commands that had to be followed. Rachel Craig, interviewed by author, 7 December 1995.
23 Ruth Ramoth-Sampson, comp. Maniilaq ( n.p., n.d.),vii-ix, Craig interview, 7 December 1995.
24 Northwest Alaska Elders, Lore of the Inupiat: The Elders Speak, vol. 3, ed. Linda Piquk, Lee Ruthie Tatqavin Sampson, and Edward Tennant (Kotzebue, AK: Northwest Arctic Borough School District, 1992), 141; Grace A. Hill to Lopp and Shields, 4 August 1916 and W.S. to Grace A. Hill, draft not sent, Alaska Native Brotherhood Collection, box 41, University of Alaska Fairbanks (hereafter ANB Collection, UAF).
25 Eli M. Myers to "Dear Sir," 30 June 1908, roll 15; Ann Fienup-Riordan, The Real People and the Children of Thunder: The Yupik Eskimo Encounter with Moravian Missionaries John and Edith Kilbuck (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 82.
26 Thornton, Among the Eskimos of Wales, 44; Charles W. Hawkesworth to CEd, 31 January 1911, frame 854, roll 30; W.S. to W.T Lopp, 24 November 1911, roll 18; Pauline Harvey interview, 11 November 1982, "Elders in Residence Collection," H90-06-10, Alaska and Polar Regions Department, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
27 Eli M. Meyers, "Annual Report," 30 June 1908, roll 15; P.H. Laufman to CEd, 1 June 1908, roll 26; C.C. Pidgeon to CEd, 30 June 1910, roll 26; A.B. Kinne to CEd, 4 December 1908, roll 6. There was no compulsory attendance law until 1915. Even then, law enforcement was out of the question in many parts of the territory and lax in some parts where it would have been most feasible. Moreover, the bureau's employees understood that economic necessity often required students follow their parents on extended subsistence activities away from villages for months at a time, whether or not school was in session.
28 Walter C Shields to CEd, 26 November 1913, frame 384; and Walter C. Shields, "Annual Report, N.W. District 1918," frame 564, roll 33.
29 The denser population and traditional village loyalty of residents of the permanent Eskimo settlements along much of the Kuskokwim River apparently contributed to a much weaker pull of Bureau of Education schools in that area. Wendell H Oswalt, Bashful No Longer: An Alaskan Eskimo Ethnohistory, 1778-1988 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1990).
30 Burch, "Kotzebue Sound Eskimo," 303-304, 307, 313-317. Also for mobility and colonization, see William L. Sheppard, "Contact Period Settlement Dynamics in Norton Sound" (Paper delivered at the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Alaska Anthropological Association, Fairbanks, 9 March 1990).
31 Many teachers' annual reports commonly explained low attendance numbers in September and abrupt declines in April or May by movements back from or to fish camps or hunting camps and occasionally observed that some students left with their parents for periods during the school year to trap or hunt. In 1916 Fred M. Sickler, the teacher at Shungnak, made similar comments and also noted a social implication of nontraditional congregation of riverine people in school villages. He was troubled by the amount of bickering in town and the resultant removal of some families. When he asked the elders about the cause of the strife, they told him that "before the school came we never spent more than a year in the same house . We never lived in one great village but in camps along the river. We have not learned to live together." Fred M. Sickler, "Report," received 23 September 1916, roll 22.
32 Dorothy Jean Ray, "The Sinuk Mission: Experiment in Eskimo Relocation and Acculturation," Alaska History 1 (Fall 1984): 28, 31; A.N. Evans to Harlan Updegraff, 21 October 1909, roll 29.
33 Evans to Updegraff, 21 October 1909, roll 29; Walter C. Shields to CEd, 26 November 1913, roll 32.
34 Annual Report of the United States Revenue-Cutter Service for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1912 (GPO, 1913), 110-11; U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear Log Book, 19 August 1911, National Archives; Hearings Before Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in charge of Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1914, vol. 10, p. 278: Hearings Before Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in charge of Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1915, vol. 80, p. 991; Hearings Before Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations in charge of Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1916, vol. 82, p. 710; Walter C Culver, "Annual Report U.S. Gov't School at Port Moller," 19 August 1916; Culver, "Annual Report," 30 June 1917; W.T. Loop to Superintendent Forbes, Pacific American Fisheries, 11 March 1916, and Lopp to Walter G. Culver, 29 January 1917, roll 20. The origin of Eskimo settlement at Port Moller is not clear. The 1911 exodus from Nome evidently was not the first travel between the two places. In 1910 the census taker counted forty-three people at Herendeen Bay. Most were Eskimos or the offspring of white and Eskimo unions. These Eskimo people were clearly of a different stock from those in other communities the census-taker visited along the peninsula; he identified the inhabitants of the other settlements as Aleut. Unfortunately, the census does not indicate where most of these Eskimos came from, although it does make clear that at least one was from the western Seward Peninsula.
35 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1903, 2344, 2347; Nome Semi-Weekly Nugget, 17 September 1904; enclosure to Elmer Ellsworth Brown to secretary of the Interior, 2 March 1907, Interior Department Territorial Papers: Alaska (M-430), roll 14, frames 310-11, Federal Archives and Records Center, Anchorage; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1907, 390.
36 Walter C. Shields to CEd, 30 July 1910; C. Zook, memo, 1 July 1908; Arthur W. Johnson to CEd, 1 July 1910; Walter C. Shields to W.T. Lopp, 24 October 1911; Shields to Lopp, 13 November 1913; and Anna C. Anderson to CEd, 4 June 1914, roll 18.
37 Carl S. Zook to Harlan Updegraff, 5 December 1907, chief of division to Carl S. Zook, 13 February 1908; and A.N. Evans to CEd, telegram 5 May 1908, roll 18; A.N. Evans to CEd, 15 June 1911, roll 31.
38 Nome Daily Nugget, 9 May 1911, 6 May 1911, 11 May 1911, 10 June 1911.
39 A.N. Evans to CEd, 15 June 1911, roll 31; Nome Daily Nugget, 2 August 1911, 4 August 1911.
40 The reminiscences of Waldo Bodfish suggest the attractions of Nome. Bodfish came to town for the first time as a boy about 1912 with his Eskimo family. Although they stayed only a week, his experiences -- apartment living with a stove and modern utensils, money (another Eskimo boy had to explain the coins' value), and running errands for miners and fishermen -- and his reluctance to leave remained with Bodfish when his life history was recorded seventy years later. Waldo Bodfish, Sr., Kusiq: An Eskimo Life History from the Arctic Coast of Alaska, ed. And comp. William Schneider (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1991), 19-20.
41 Walter C Shields to CEd, 30 July 1910, roll 18; Shields, "Report on Council 1913," received 2 July 1913, roll 6;.
42 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1905, 280; A.N. Evans to CEd, 29 September 1908; Charles W. Hawkesworth to Elmer Ellsworth Brown, 23 May 1911, and Walter C Shields, "Report on Council 1913," received 2 July 1913, roll 6; Shields to CEd, 25 March 1912, roll 31.
43 Shields to CEd, 25 March 1912, roll 31. For other testimonies to the natives' Westernization and prosperousness within an integrated council, see Stella Dunaway to Harlan Updegraff, 31 January 1908; Charles Wilbert Snow to Lopp, 20 January 1912; Snow to CEd, 15 June 1912; Lula James Welch to district superintendent bureau of education, received 23 June 1913; and Welch to CEd, received 5 June 1915, roll 6.
44 Walter C. Shields to CEd, 25 March 1912, roll 31.
46 J.V. Geary to CEd, 16 July 1917, roll 7; Walter C Shields, "Alaska School Service Superintendents's Monthly Report for September 1916," roll 33; U.S. Twelfth Census manuscripts; Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year Ended June 30, 1925 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1925), 27.
47 Walter C Shields, "Report on Buckland," answered 18 July 1912, roll 32; Wilson H. Cox, "Annual Report of Mission Work on thew Alaskan Field," 1 March 1911, roll 2, frame 1174; and Cox, "Annual Report," 1 March 1912, roll 2, frame 1179, Friends Alaska Mission Documents, Alaska Quaker Documents, George Fox College, Newberg, Oregon (microfilm, University of Alaska, Anchorage. Hereafter cited as Friends Alaska Mission Documents).
48 Mrs. Dana Thomas, Alaska Mission Diary, v.9, p.56, I July 190-3 - 1 July 1904, roll 1, frame 1641, Friends Alaska Mission Documents; Fred f. Henshaw, "Mining in the Fairhaven Precinct" in Mineral Resources of Alaska: Report on Progress of Investigations in 1908, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 379 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1909), 364; Fred Henshaw, "Mining in Seward Peninsula" in Mineral Resources of Alaska: Report on Progress of Investigations in 1909, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 442 (1910); Alfred H. Brooks, The Mining Industry in 1912" in Mineral Resources of Alaska: Report of Progress of Investigations in 1912, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 542 (1913); Walter C, Shields, "Report on the Candle 1913," received 2 July 1913, roll 3; Shields, "Report on Candle," answered 18 July 1912, roll 32.
49 Shields, "Report on Buckland 1913," received 2 July 1913, roll 3; Shields to CEd, 21 June 1917, roll 33.
50 Roberts, Tomorrow, 266; Charles Replogle to Claxton 13 January 1914, roll 6.
52 Replogle, Among the Indians of Alaska (London: Headley Brothers, 1904), 55, 169; Hearings Before Subcommittee on Appropriations in charge of Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill for 1915, vol. 80, p 975.
53 Walter Shields to chief, 27 March 1914, box 6, folder six, William Thomas Lopp Papers, University of Oregon, Eugene; Shields to Sinclair, telegram, 24 April 1914 and Lopp to Shields, telegram, 28 April 1914, roll 32; Shields to chief of Alaska Division, Bureau of Education, 19 April 1916, roll 18.
54 Shields to the chief of Alaska Division, Bureau of Education, 19 April 1916, roll 18; Roberts, Tomorrow, 267; Executive Order 2089, 21 November 1914. The Kobuk River Reserve was the largest of several similar reserves created in Alaska in the 1910's.
55 Replogle to Shields, 26 June 1916; and Replogle to Shields, 23 November 1916; Lopp to Shields, 30 June 1917; Delbert E. Replogle to P.P. Claxton, n.d., "Annual Report for Nineteen Twenty," ANB Collection, UAF; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1918, 65th Cong., 3d sess., H. Doc. 1448, 141.
56 J. Maguire, "Report of the Conditions at Noorvik," 18 August 1917; Replogle to Shields, 3 December 1917; Shields to Replogle, 29 December 1917, box 41, ANB Collection, UAF; Lore of the Inupiat, 3: 133.
57 Frederick E. Hoxie, A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 164-68, 201-202.
58 See Robert M. Utley, The Indian Frontier of the American West, 1846-1890 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984) for the disastrous impact of reservations on the traditional life of the Indians in the states.
59 Ann Fienup-Riordan, The Real People and the Children of Thunder, has a similar "optimistic" view of the effects of missions and schools among the Kuskokwim River Eskimo of southwest Alaska and the ability of natives to choose the elements of Western culture they wished to adopt. Wendell Oswalt, Bashful No Longer, 190, is less sanguine about the people's exposure to whites in the early twentieth century but acknowledges that when modern Kuskokwim Eskimos look back toward a golden era, they refer to the first third of this century.