The earliest known contact the Indians of southeast Alaska had with Europeans occurred in 1741, when Chirikoff, Bering's second in command, in the St. Paul, made landfall first in the vicinity of latitude 55 41' N., and again near 57 15' N., the second location being a few miles north of the modern site of Sitka, if his observations were anywhere near correct. At the latter position the well-known incident took place in which Chirikoff sent first one boat in to the beach for water, then after waiting some days sent another one to search for the first; neither ever returned. Presumably the Tlingit killed both boat crews, for two large canoes of warriors came out toward the ship, and Chirikoff sailed away. More significant contacts were made during the 1790's and early decades of the 19th century when various American and European vessels, chiefly American and British, though other nationalities were also represented, began to comb the coasts in the lucrative trade for sea otter pelts, especially after the results of Vancouver's explorations and painstaking surveys became available. The Indians learned a good deal about the whites in the period of the seagoing fur traders, and especially about white material culture. Relationships were characterized by uneasy blends of avarice and hostility on both sides. Many of the traders were quite ruthless when they dared to be—when dealing with small parties of Indians with furs, and when competition was not too close. The Indians were anxious for white goods, especially articles in vogue at the moment, for they developed a remarkable interest in novelties and fads, and also they were ever on the watch for carelessness on the part of the trader that would give them the chance to capture the ship and thus simultaneously revenge old wrongs and enrich themselves. This was a fabulous period, and one whose cultural aspects have never been adequately studied. The variety of trade goods brought in was amazing. No one but a good Yankee, like Sturgis, would have thought of importing ermine skins (used on the trailers of the northern forehead masks); he bought them in Leipzig for 30 cents each, and traded them five for each sea otter hide (worth $50 at Canton), thus making a conservative profit of more than 3,000 percent.

During this epoch, Baranof attempted to get control of southeast Alaska and wrest the trade away from the Americans and British by establishing forts at Sitka and Yakutat in 1799. These first posts were tolerated by the local Indians a few years, then in 1802 and 1805, respectively, were captured and destroyed. The Sitka post, New Archangel, was rebuilt in 1804, and operated until the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867. However, Russian control of the region was purely mythical. Contacts were limited to the Sitka clans principally, and as the Russians themselves described the situation, the post was "in a constant state of siege by the Tlingits who live in the same settlement with them and are separated only by a simple wooden fence" (Senate Doc. 152, 1950 (citing Kostlitsev), pp. 64-65.) In an official report published in 1863, Golovin wrote, "Not long ago no Russian would dare to go more than 50 paces from the New Archangel (Sitka) fortress without arms. At the present time there is no such enmity, but the trading takes place only with the Sitka Tlingits who live some hundred yards from New Archangel. Tlingits who live in the straits are neither inimical nor friendly, but as they themselves say, they 'tolerate, the Russians' " (ibid., pp. 62-63). Although the Tlingit population, like that of other Northwest Coast tribes, was most drastically reduced during the appalling smallpox epidemics of the 1830's, as late as 1855 certain Sitka clans, annoyed with the Russians, came within an ace of repeating their 1802 achievement of taking the Russian fort.

Unable to exploit the present "Panhandle" region, or to compete effectively with either Hudson's Bay Company or the seafaring traders, as the lesser of two evils the Russians, in 1839, leased the mainland from Cape Spencer to latitude 54 40' N. to the Company for a period of 10 years. This lease was renewed several times, until its final expiration in 1865. The Hudson's Bay Company regime had its moments of difficulty. Fort Stikine was attacked vigorously on several occasions. A good deal of the trouble with the Indians was attributed to the liquor traffic, which the Russians had always engaged in, and which Hudson's Bay Company reluctantly had been forced to enter into in order to compete with American traders. In 1842 Sir George Simpson and Captain Etolin, the creole governor of the Russian-American Company, signed an agreement to prohibit sale or trade of alcoholic liquors to Indians (Simpson, 1930, p.202 ff.).2 Whether this agreement had a beneficial effect on Hudson's Bay Company trade is not clear, but there does seem to have been a progressive diminishing of large-scale conflict from that time on. During this phase of coastal history, in southeast Alaska as farther south, the Indians became more and more dependent on grade goods, and simultaneously the fur supply dwindled. The sea otter had long since become scarce; land furs, both from the coast and those traded from the "Stick Indians," were fewer as intensive trapping reduced fur-bearing populations. It is difficult to get a very clear picture of the actual extent of Indian acculturation at this time, however, except that the Sitka groups were clearly the most influenced, owing to their contacts with the New Archangel post. A limited number had become nominal members of the Greek Orthodox faith,3 and some of those instructed by Veniaminov may have been genuine converts. In the years following the purchase of Alaska by the United States, there are various reports of significant new developments in native attitudes, particularly among the Stikine, Tongass, and other Southern Tlingit who were in closer contact with the Christian Tsimshian of Fort Simpson and Metlakatla, many of whom were literate, and had learned various skills of advantage to them in dealing with whites. By the late 1870's many Tlingit were requesting schools and missionaries (Senate Doc. 59, 1879, passim), a pretty certain indication of a readjustment of values. By far the clearest picture of the acculturative level is that given by Commander Beardslee, USN, and his successors, during the naval administration period, 1879-84; by Lieutenant Schwatka, USA; and by Krause (U.S. Navy, Commanders' Letters, 1879-84, passim; Senate Doc. 71, 1882; Schwatka, in U.S. Senate, compilation, 1900, pp.323 ff.; and Krause, 1885, pp.14-74, 329-344.). Most of the Tlingit of that time wore clothes of European style, chiefly in coarse, "workingman's" fabrics and cuts, "rather than just the blanket"; silverworking was a very popular craft, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and nose ornaments were most common; the labret, for women, was falling into disuse. Guns, chiefly flintlocks and percussion models (sale of breech-loading rifles to Indians was supposed to be prohibited), were indispensable to hunters. Steel knives and axes, etc., had been in use for a long time; malleable iron was hammered out and filed down to taste to make cutting blades for harpoons and similar implements, in modified aboriginal designs. The woolen blanket, brought in chiefly from Hudson's Bay Company posts without benefit of Customs,4 was the standard of value, at $3 each—about three times the British Columbia price. Vegetable gardens, often neatly fenced in, and with snares, etc., to keep the crows out, were to be seen at most villages. More significant than these accumulations of material culture items was the ready adaptation to white concepts of industry and work for wages. Game and fish were regularly sold to the Russians at Sitka, but it would appear that there were enough Aleuts and creoles to furnish needed labor there; however, within a few years after United States acquisition of the Territory the Tlingit were busying themselves with every job they could get. When the Cassiar gold rush got underway in 1874, the Stikine began freighting cargo up the river in big canoes both for wages and on a contract basis. One account states Indians were freighting for $30 per weight-ton, while the steamers, when they operated, charged $40 per measurement-ton (Senate Doc. 59, 1879, p.34). Indeed, so highly was this laborious but, to the Indians, well-paid work regarded, that men of other villages entered into it as well, to the annoyance of the Stikine, who considered they should have a monopoly on freighting on their own river. Apparently both Henyakwan and some of the Kaigani Haida fished for, and worked in, the Klawock cannery, generally said to have been the second cannery to be established in Alaska, from its founding. When Commander Beardslee arrived at Sitka in the summer of 1879, to take over the protection of the whites who had reported themselves on the verge of being massacred, he found about 100 Tlingit busily working for the cannery at Hunter's Bay, near Sitka, another 40 working in a mining operation at Silver Bay, and before he himself had been there a fortnight he hired 20 to work on his program of constructing beacons and ranges for entering the harbor. As more prospectors came to Alaska, Indians hired out as packers (the Chilkat worked a slight variation on this theme: they hired out their slaves as packers "at very moderate rates," to the first party of miners whom they permitted to go through their country and over the passes into the Interior). Soon the Chilkat and Chilkoot themselves began packing. Lieutenant Schwatka, USA, relates that in 1883 they were charging from $9 to $12 for each load of 100 pounds taken over the passes into the Yukon drainage. He wrote: ". . . after I had crossed the trail [over Chilkoot Pass], I in no way blamed the Indians for . . . [their rates which] seemed at first sight to be exorbitant, and only wondered that they would do this extremely fatiguing labor so reasonably" (Schwatka, in U.S. Senate, compilation, 1900, p.292). When gold-bearing deposits were discovered near the site of modern Juneau, the Auk-kwan chiefs cheerfully gave their permission for the miners to come to establish a camp there, and "expressed a determination to work in the mines." In other words, the Tlingit (and Haida, though we hear little about them at this time), with their aboriginal interest in goods as wealth, and their long experience at acquiring desired objects through trade, seem to have made a very easy initial adjustment to the early phase of the industrialized economy which had come to them. Interest in education continued to grow. The second naval commander, Glass, made education of children between 5 and 15 years old compulsory at Sitka, and devised a drastic means of insuring attendance at school (he fined or jailed the chief of the house of a truant); at the same time, 40 to 50 adults were attending the school fairly regularly. The isolationist Chilkat and Chilkoot assented readily to the suggestion that they move down to the Northwest Trading Company post, at the site of modern Haines, to put their children in the school that was established there. In addition, missionary activity seems to have met no strong native resistance, although it aroused a rather limited amount of interest for a couple of decades. Another acquired accomplishment of the Tlingit, and presumably the Haida, was that they became enthusiastic if not skillful distillers, running off batch after batch of the well-known "hootchenoo," the molasses rum, of which Special Treasury Agent, William Gouverneur Morris, reported "the smell is abominable and the taste is atrocious." Prostitution, common at Sitka during the later years of Russian occupation, was in nowise diminished during the period of Army rule, nor when the miners began to flock into the Territory. In the area of linguistic acculturation, a good many Indians appear to have picked up a few words of English, from American and British traders, but very few could really converse in that tongue; a smaller number, presumably people who had had more frequent contacts with Hudson's Bay Company personnel, were fluent in Chinook jargon, and a very limited number of Sitka people spoke Russian. As to aboriginal complexes retained, the ancient clan house was still built and used, and officially inaugurated with a major potlatch (with the occasional addition of windows) although by 1884 there was a very strong trend toward construction of small, individual-family homes at Sitka. Salmon, halibut, seal oil, and venison were still dietary mainstays, though they were cooked in iron pots, and often supplemented, by people convenient to stores and trading posts, by white foodstuffs, and of course the produce of native gardens. Shamanism and slavery were in full swing except at Sitka where determined efforts were made to suppress them. Clan chiefs retained considerable influence, and the matrilineal clans and the "moiety" system regulated marriage, inheritance, and a great many aspects of social behavior. Cremation of the dead, and observance of individual life crises rites continued in force. In brief, at the time of the first, albeit limited, authorized civil government of Alaska created by the act of 1884, the Indians of southeast Alaska were already highly acculturated in the areas of material culture and wealth economy, though preserving many aboriginal usages, and were aware of the need to learn and understand certain white techniques and values such as language, and reading and writing. Among a few there was an interest in Christianity. They were also well indoctrinated in certain white vices, such as drinking and prostitution. In the fields of social organization and, for the majority, religion, there were no detectable changes from prehistoric patterns.

Formal education was combined with Christian missionization among the Indians in the 1870's. That mass-production historian, Bancroft, despite his efforts (or those of his hired help who wrote those chapters) to make a heroic figure of Baranof and glamorize the Russian fur traders, states that "it must be admitted that the Greek Church was a failure throughout Russian America" (Bancroft, 1886, p.704). However, that church continued its efforts after American purchase of the Territory, not only among the creoles, who for the most part continued to be devout Christians, but among the Indians also. To this day there are sizable Greek Orthodox congregations at Sitka and Hoonah, particularly. Protestant missionization was inaugurated at Fort Wrangell about 1876 by a Fort Simpson Tsimshian named Philip MacKay who with some of his fellow tribesmen had gone there to cut cordwood for the Army post. MacKay began to preach to the local Tlingit, and to teach them, as well, so they could read hymnals and the Bible. The commanding officer at the post gave MacKay a room to use, and assisted him to get books. Many Stikine were greatly interested; for the time they forgot intertribal enmities. Word of this interest reached various religious organizations in the States, and eventually the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions sent a Mrs. McFarland, who, in 1877, opened a girls' school at Wrangell, which operated successfully for some time. One of Commander Beardslee's first acts after his arrival at Sitka was to set up a school for the 60 or 70 white and creole (mostly creole) children at Sitka, "at which these children could be fitted to occupy their future position as United States citizens."5 When, after a visit by Dr. Sheldon Jackson, the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions provided for a "lady missionary-teacher" for Sitka Indians, Commander Beardslee gave her a great deal of assistance, providing a suitable place for her school in the old Russian hospital, and so on. His relief, Commander Glass, as has been related, arbitrarily but effectively made school attendance compulsory for Indian children. This was the origin of the Sitka Industrial School, later the Sheldon Jackson School, and now Sheldon Jackson Junior College, in which hundreds of young Indians, mostly Tlingit and Haida, have been educated. Other schools were started as well. The head of the Northwest Trading Company (apparently after some pressure by Commander Glass) authorized the construction of a schoolhouse adjacent to the company's Chilkat post (the site of present-day Haines), and the trader's wife, Mrs. Dickenson, an educated Tongass woman, taught there until a missionary teacher relieved her. Another school was established in 1881 at Hoonah, by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions. By 1882, the mission schools for Indians in southeast Alaska numbered seven, six of which were operated in connection with Presbyterian missions (the affiliation of the seventh is not mentioned) (Jones, 1914, p.246, and passim).

The Organic Act of 1884 provided that

the Secretary of the Interior shall make needful and proper provision for the education of children of school age in the Territory of Alaska, without reference to race, until such time as permanent provision shall be made for the same, and the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated for this purpose. [23 Stat. L., 24, sec. 13.]

Nichols asserts that in the year this act was passed, and the fund made available, limited though it was, no use was made of it "through lack of ideas as to how best apportion it" (Nichols, 1924, p.102). In 1885, according to the same historian, $25,000 was appropriated for the education of Alaskan children "without reference to race," and $15,000 for the support and education of Indian children in industrial schools. That same year the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner of Education agreed on the appointment of Dr. Sheldon Jackson as General Agent for Education in Alaska. Jackson, active in the missionary field, was primarily interested in education as a proselytizing technique. He realized that (even in that pre-inflation era) the amount of appropriated funds was insufficient for setting up a Territorial school system. He therefore used his influence as General Agent for Education (and he also could count on a potent backing in Congress) to expend most of the funds available to assist a going concern—the mission school system in the Panhandle. Thus, the mission schools got substantial subsidies from the annual fund, most of which was expended in this way (the appropriations for the school years 1886-87 to 1900-1901 ranged from $15,000 to $50,000, and averaged about $30,000 per year) (Senate Doc. 1093, 1913, note, p.225). This materially assisted the program of Indian education, and at the same time sowed seeds of resentment among white Alaskans. Those unenfranchised citizens could not compete with Jackson in political influence. It is most probable that resentment, justified or not, against Jackson's interest in the natives and his ability to channel a large proportion of such funds as were available into the Indian educational program, contributed to the anti-Indian discriminatory attitude that prevailed in Alaska up to the early decades of the 20th century.

In the 1890's, the subsidies to mission schools were whittled away. An act passed by Congress in 1900 provided for election of school boards in municipal corporations, and allocated 50 percent of license moneys collected in each municipality to its schools (Senate Doc. 1093, 1913, p.225). This was apparently the beginning of the Territorial school system. In 1901, provision was made for schools for white children outside of incorporated towns, and in 1905 another act created an "Alaska fund" into which license fees were to be paid, and one-fourth of which was earmarked for schools. This act made the governor of the district ex officio superintendent of schools, and specified, among other things, that these schools were for "the education of white children and children of mixed blood who lead a civilized life." Provision for the education of native (Indian and Eskimo) children remained directly under the Secretary of the Interior, and was supported by congressional appropriation. The native schools were actually operated by the Bureau of Education (a predecessor of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare). Thus the "two-school system" came into being, officially.6

The Indians had a ringside seat at the long struggle of white Alaskans for civil government and a measure of self-government. While it is to be doubted that the natives paid much attention at first, as time wore on and they became increasingly aware of the limitations placed upon them by their ambiguous status (since, not being treaty Indians they were not "wards" of the Government in the ordinary sense, but were at times treated as such), some of them must have recognized the similarity between their situation and that of the vociferously protesting whites. The story of Alaskan civil government is a lengthy and complex one that need be only sketched most briefly here. From the time of the purchase, 1867, 17 years passed before any provision was made for civil law.7 During this period the only effective law was that dispensed by the naval commanders who from 1879 to 1884 gingerly tried to administer some sort of order by stretching their instructions "to protect American lives and property" close to the breaking point. Even then there was no way in which an Alaskan resident could acquire real property, make a legal will, or perform any other normal function involving legal processes. A miner who, after firing five .34 caliber pistol slugs into a comrade's body in a drunken moment, was arrested by the naval commander and sent to be tried for assault with intent to kill before the United State District Court in Portland, was discharged by that court for want of jurisdiction—that is, there was no law against such an act in Alaska (although the same court a year or so earlier had hanged a Sitka Indian for the murder of a white man). Finally, in 1884, the first "Organic Act" for Alaska was passed. This act provided for an appointed governor, one judge, one marshal, a district attorney, a clerk, four commissioners, and four deputy marshals, and applied the laws of Oregon to the District (for Alaska was specifically not made an organized Territory by this act). The trials and tribulations of Alaskans under this system—the fact that the Oregon code did not fit (for instance, it ascribed certain functions to incorporated towns and counties, which did not exist in Alaska), need not be gone into here. Bit by bit, more legislation was passed: major steps were a criminal code provided in 1899 and a civil code in 1900, both drafted to fit Alaskan conditions; in 1906, provision for election of a delegate to Congress (a mass meeting had elected one in 1881, but he was refused admission by the House Committee on Elections); and finally in 1912 an elective legislature was provided for. What is more important are the methods used by white Alaskans to call the attention of Congress to their plight. They held mass meetings, drafted petitions to Congress and to various Presidents, they sent representatives to lobby on Capitol Hill, and formed nonpartisan organizations, such as the Arctic Brotherhood, to urge their demands. Alaskan newspapers were full of discussions of the issues, and being good frontier newspapers did not bother with subtleties, but expressed themselves bluntly and forcefully. The famous Valdez resolution telegraphed to President Theodore Roosevelt on the day of his inauguration in 1905, though a more spectacular expression than most, was fairly typical of the tone of the day.8 I have no concrete evidence that the Tlingit and Haida, as they became more and more literate, more involved in the industrial economy of Alaska, and more acutely aware of their problems, were directly influenced by the tumult that accompanied the white residents' campaign. If, however, Indian leaders, at least, were not interested, and did not learn something about white American techniques for influencing legislation, they must have been singularly unaware of what was going on around them. To assume that they were so obtuse would come close to insulting their intelligence. I am certain they were considerably affected by the turbulent scenes about them.

Mission activity continued over the years, becoming more and more important in native life. Various Christian sects were active at different times.

The Greek Orthodox Church is said to have increased its activities and its influence for a time. A Roman Catholic Mission was established at Fort Wrangell in the 1870's but did not prosper. The Friends, the Salvation Army, and the Methodist-Episcopal Church also entered the field (Episcopalian, Congregational, and Moravian missionaries began work in other parts of Alaska). But the Presbyterian Church was most active in southeast Alaska and with its enthusiastic Alaskan representative, Sheldon Jackson, came to have great influence. In the first two decades of the 20th century it attained a peak in importance in the Indian villages (I do not mean to imply that it is not influential still, but there was at that time a great surge of interest among the Indians). The Presbyterian missionaries were being supported strongly by graduates of Sitka Training School, who had matured and taken their places as leaders in their home communities. It suddenly became very popular to join the Church. The missionaries urged abandonment of old customs, and adoption of "civilized" life. It was at the behest of the Presbyterian missionary at Kake that that village cut down its row of totem poles, built a wooden sidewalk, and requested a charter as an "organized village"—being the first native community in Alaska to do so, a fact of which Kake people are very proud. By 1912 the great majority of Tlingit and Alaskan Haida were members of a Christian church, were economically dependent on commercial fishing, and were heavily dependent as well on white material culture: clothing, firearms, tools, traps, fishing gear, and to some extent on purchased foods such as coffee, flour, sugar, and the like. A fair proportion of the younger and middle-aged people spoke English with some ease, and were literate. A few had attended Indian schools in the States, Chemawa and Carlisle; others were in the process of being educated in those "outside" schools.


The Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded in 1912 by a group of men from various communities (though most of them were from or lived in, Sitka) who met in Sitka for the purpose. This first organizational meeting is nowadays regarded as the first of the Brotherhood's annual conventions, though properly speaking it was not a convention. The original founders numbered 10.9 All were men who were not only quite acculturated, but who specifically were strongly influenced by the Presbyterian missionaries of Sitka Training School (later "Sheldon Jackson School"). This influence was manifest in the emphasis in Brotherhood policy on Christian ideals and morality. All 10 of the founders were themselves not only members of Presbyterian congregations but were regarded as especially outstanding leaders in church work in their respective communities. In addition certain missionaries at Sitka appear to have encouraged the founding of the organization, and contributed advice and guidance. A Dr. Wilbur, a medical missionary stationed at Sitka Training School at that time, was mentioned as having been of especial assistance to the founder (Alaska Fisherman, vol. 1, No. 6, 1924). In the years immediately following the founding, many prominent Indians of southeast Alaska joined—nearly all of them were active members of the Presbyterian Church, which at that time was vigorously expanding its mission activities throughout southeast Alaska.10

Prior to the founding of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, church-affiliated societies had been organized in nearly every Presbyterian mission. These were ordinarily started by the resident missionary, or by the missionary's wife in the case of women's groups, and followed the usual pattern of church societies in white Protestant congregations, both in form and functions. Officers were chosen by election; business meetings were conducted according to standard rules of preliminary procedure. Purposes of these groups included Bible study, familiarization with church ritual, and charitable and civic acts. Each of these organizations was strictly a local affair, limited to the local mission congregation (that the same or similar names occurred in several villages is to be attributed to the pattern of nomenclature of such societies in the parent church). It is also important to note that in a few exceptional cases only did any of these societies survive for more than a few years the transfer of the individual missionaries who founded them, a measure of the close control maintained by those persons.

The significant thing about these early societies from the acculturational point of view is that they provided a training ground in which white techniques of group cooperation could be learned. They had elected officers: presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, treasurers, and others. They had business meetings, conducted by rules of parliamentary procedure. (Elections and rules of order were also being taught in connection with the village councils that many missionaries established.) The societies had definite goals, social as well as religious; they campaigned for worthy causes, and raised funds through missionary approved methods (bazaars, basket socials, etc.) to further their causes. At a time when the aboriginal way of life had been disrupted beyond repair by white civilization, and when the Indian appeared to have but two choices—to become acculturated or to become extinct—this type of group organization, itself white-approved, offered a ready-made mode of attacking the Indian's problems.11

The New Covenant Legion, at the Sitka Presbyterian Mission, was typical of these early church societies. It was founded by George Beck, who was at that time a lay worker at the Sitka Mission (he later was ordained and served as missionary at Kake). Beck was assisted by a mixed-blood Tlingit woman, Mrs. Tamaree (formerly Mrs. Paul). Mrs. Tamaree was highly acculturated, a devout church worker, and, as well, a person of considerable influence among the Indians. The New Covenant Legion held weekly meetings. Its membership was drawn from the native congregation of the mission church, including both men and women. The society had a full set of elective officers. Bible study constituted one of the major activities; social problems, particularly the desirability of the abolition of both aboriginal customs and the use of alcoholic beverages, were frequent topics of discussion. Both Beck and Mrs. Tamaree were transferred to other mission stations and duties after a time, and the group disbanded. It is said, however, that most of the founders of the Brotherhood had been members of this society.

In Klawock, about the year 1909, the Presbyterian missionary encouraged members of his congregation to form an organization which they called the "Brotherhood of Klawock." This society, like the New Covenant Legion at Sitka, was patterned after white church groups, and had about the same formal organization and the same type of activities. One former member of this group recalls that a function regarded as important was the appointing of a "sick committee" whose duty it was to visit the sick, both to console them and to render practical aid such as getting in their firewood. The organization also drew on its treasury to pay or help pay the fare of any person who had to go to town for medical attention. The Brotherhood of Klawock was one of the more successful of the early societies. It continued to function for a number of years, finally affiliating with the Alaska Native Brotherhood in the early 1920's. Its local strength is demonstrated by the fact that on the insistence of its membership it was permitted to retain, through a special arrangement, its own bylaws after the merger rather than adopting those prescribed for local chapters by the Alaska Brotherhood.

About 1912 and the years following, there were a number of women's societies organized in various villages. As a rule they were started by the wife of the local missionary, with membership recruited from the feminine portion of the local congregation, At Kake, for example, the wife of George Beck, who had by that time been assigned there as missionary, with the assistance of Mrs. Stuteen, a Tlingit woman who was one of the early members of the Presbyterian congregation there, organized a "Women's Village Improvement Society." According to Mrs. Stuteen, Mrs. Beck told them that she was patterning the organization after a women's society to which she had belonged in her home town in the Eastern United States before coming to Alaska. This organization had regular meetings which were opened with prayer and hymns and readings from the Bible. The members elected officers including the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, and appointed various committees. One of the important committees was the "sick committee" which functioned among the women of Kake as did the sick committee of the Brotherhood of Klawock, visiting the sick and giving them assistance of various sorts. The society soon established a pattern which became prominent in its lineal successor, the Alaska Native Sisterhood. In the very early days of its founding the members raised funds by giving socials and basket suppers and the like, and they gave this money for various projects of community benefit. On one occasion when a board sidewalk was to be built (or rebuilt) at Kake, the Women's Village Improvement Society raised $400 to pay for materials and the sawing of lumber for the walk, and some $90 for food which the women prepared and served to the men who contributed the labor. Similar organizations were founded in other communities. There was the Women's Village Improvement Society at Hoonah which continued to function at least into the early 1920's, after the Alaska Native Sisterhood had been founded. At Klawock, the Women's Missionary Society (that may not be the exact title of the organization) was established by the wife of the same missionary who inspired the founding of the Brotherhood of Klawock.

In short, it is plain that there was little about the source of inspiration of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, or about its formal pattern, or, as we shall see later, its original function, that distinguished it from the numerous associations founded among the Indians at about the same period. The principal, unique feature, and the one that contributed to its success where the others eventually failed, appears to have been its nonlocal character. That is to say, from the first it was envisaged as an organization that was to be represented by local chapters (called "Camps") in various communities. It appears, too, that the local units were not directly managed by white missionaries, and that therefore the native members were forced to take a greater responsibility in keeping the groups going. Perhaps for this reason the Brotherhood survived its early years.

The Brotherhood had not been in existence for more than 2 or 3 years, it was related, when the suggestion was made that a woman's auxiliary be formed. According to one informant the feminine unit was first called "Daughters of Alaska," a name later changed to the present one, "Alaska Native Sisterhood," to parallel that of the men's group. As the Sisterhood was introduced in one village after another, it usually, though not invariably, took over the existing women's societies, lock, stock and barrel. This is what occurred at Kake, for instance, where the Village Improvement Society, existing officers and all, became the Kake Camp of the Sisterhood on receipt of a charter from the parent organization. At Hoonah, however, I was given to understand that a chapter of the Sisterhood was established, and coexisted with the local Village Improvement Society for some years. Many women belonged to both simultaneously.

The first chapters or camps of the Brotherhood were established at three places, Sitka, Juneau, and Douglas. For several years no new units were added. In 1915, most of the founders and prominent early members met at Metlakatla, during an "Educational Fair," put on by the Bureau of Education (which originally established native schools in Alaska, a function that was taken over in 1931 by the Alaska Native Service, the Alaskan unit of the Bureau of Indian Affairs). One informant insisted that at that time a number of Metlakatla people became interested, and formally established a Camp in their community, but he seems to have been in error, although a good deal of interest in the organization was aroused. Other persons, including a number of well-informed Metlakatlans, assured me that there never had been a camp at Metlakatla. It seems to have been at this time that Rev. Edward Marsden became interested in the organization, however, and he had a great deal to do with establishing the Camp at Saxman, for he was then connected with the Mission in that Tlingit community. Other villages were slower in joining; it appears that it was not until the early 1920's that Camps came to be established in all the Indian communities in southeast Alaska except Metlakatla. Each Camp, incidentally, retains a numeral, or serial number, that indicates the relative time of its establishment. Thus, the Angoon Brotherhood Camp is "Camp No. 7," the seventh chapter to have been chartered. Brotherhood and Sisterhood Camps in each community were not necessarily started at the same time, and therefore may have different serial numbers.

A number of informants agree that one thing that hindered the spread of the organization in the early days was the persistence of ancient local jealousies and rancors that had carried over from unsettled feuds and wars. Just how conscious of this the missionary advisers of the early days of the organization were is a matter of doubt, but they seemed to have been unable to do very much about it. It is related that before Wrangell people could be seriously interested in participating, a formal settlement had to be made between them and certain of the Sitka clans because of surviving bitter feeling resulting from a "war" between them. A Wrangell man who had resided at Sitka and who joined the Brotherhood quite early played a leading part in arranging this settlement and was the principal emissary to Sitka. At what must have been a very remarkable ceremony, a formal treaty of peace was signed by the Wrangell and Sitka chiefs concerned. The peace treaty was written in English and was drawn up largely in terms of Western concepts.12 Its signing, however, is said to have been accompanied by parts of the ancient aboriginal peacemaking ritual with the exchange of the gowakan ("deer") dancers (see Swanton 1908, p.451). A year later the annual convention was held at Wrangell, and apparently the Wrangell Camp was organized.

By the mid-1920's, as has been remarked, nearly every Indian community in Southeast Alaska, always excepting Metlakatla, had a local branch of both the men's and the women's organizations, most of which have continued to function up to the present time. In the fall of 1952 there were active Brotherhood Camps at the following places: Angoon, Craig, Douglas, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kasaan (?), Kake, Ketchikan, Klawock, Kluckwan, Saxman, Sitka, Wrangell, and Yakutat. Alaska Native Sisterhood camps were active at the same places, except apparently at Kasaan, where none was reported, but instead there was a very active camp at Petersburg. The histories of these individual camps has not always been smooth. Kasaan, for instance, was not represented at the 1952 convention; in fact I was not aware there was a camp there until the appearance of the Grand Treasurer's report in which a contribution of money was reported from that town. As I understand, Kasaan is on the verge of disappearing as a community because of remoteness from sources of income; most of its population has moved elsewhere. There is no Brotherhood Camp at Petersburg. The Saxman Camp, it was said, was rather weak and inactive for a number of years, but in recent times has increased its membership and its activities markedly. At Haines, the men are said to have lost interest for a time, so that their Camp was completely inactive in 1950-51. In 1952 it had been rejuvenated and was back in full swing.

As has been related, from its inception the Alaska Native Brotherhood was patterned after white lodges and societies. It therefore had to have a constitution and bylaws to define its formal organization and functions, Presumably such a document was drafted when the Brotherhood was founded, perhaps written in longhand, but the first printed constitution appeared in 1918. Because of some amendments (and perhaps exhaustion of the original supply), a new edition which introduced extensive changes was published in 1920. More recent editions, published about 1936 and in 1948, follow the pattern of the 1920 version closely, except insofar as they include amendments made since that time. The texts of the 1918 and 1948 versions are given in Appendixes 1 and 2. It may be noted that among other things the earliest constitution makes no mention of or provision for is the Sisterhood, which was almost certainly in existence at the time. Other points of difference will be brought out in discussing policies of the organization.


The formal structure of the Alaska Native Brotherhood is defined in its constitution. The central organization is known as the Grand Camp. This Grind Camp is the body that meets at the annual convention held, usually, during the week of the second Monday in November. It consists of various elective officers of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood, three delegates from each local Camp (one of whom is normally the president of the local Camp) of the Brotherhood, and three from each local unit of the Sisterhood, and the Executive Committee. The officers of the Grand Camp, who are ex officio members of the Executive Committee, include the Grand President, Grand Vice President (several vice presidents may be elected if the convention sees fit to do so), Grand Secretary, and Grand Treasurer. The Alaska Native Sisterhood has the same officers, although only its Grand President serves on the Executive Committee. Other members of the Executive Committee include the past Grand Presidents of the organization. Prior to 1936 this committee included all past Grand Officers of the organization, but after a series of changes, only former Grand Presidents were included.

When the convention is not in session the Executive Committee is empowered to act for the entire organization. This committee is, according to the constitution, bound to be governed by resolutions and motions passed by the convention and is not authorized to set aside the expressed will of the convention. In actual practice the group has considerable power. Since a number of the grand presidents have held that office for several terms, the committee is somewhat smaller than might be expected. Most of its members have been leaders in Brotherhood affairs for a great many years. There has been at times a slight amount of dissatisfaction, particularly among the younger men, with the power of the Executive Committee and its remoteness from the rank and file of the organization. About 1936 a resolution was passed whereby part of the membership of the Executive Committee would be drawn from the ranks of the ex-officers and the other part was to be elective. Apparently this system did not work out very well and a year or so later it was dropped. The Brotherhood once more relied on its former officers to guide it. The principal difference after this time was that, as at present, only the past Grand Presidents are seated on the Executive Committee.

In 1952 the Executive Committee consisted of the 5 current Grand Officers, the Sisterhood Grand President, and 12 past Grand Presidents of the A.N.B. With the members of a body of this type scattered as they are all over southeast Alaska, it is obviously impractical for them to have frequent meetings. The constitution provides that five members of the committee shall constitute a quorum empowered to conduct any essential business once the entire committee has been properly notified. In case even so small a representation cannot be obtained, the committee may communicate by means of letters or telegrams.

Each of the subordinate Camps in the various communities in southeast Alaska is organized on receipt of a charter issued by the Grand Camp. Each Camp elects a number of officers including its chairman or president, vice chairman, corresponding secretary, recording secretary, financial secretary, treasurer, and a camp council composed of three members. There seems to have been a deliberate attempt to create a large number of offices in order to give as many people as possible the opportunity of getting experience in the business of the organization.

Each Camp is supposed to meet at least once a month, except during the fishing season when meetings are ordinarily suspended. Local business is discussed, and also Grand Camp business, if there is any. The Grand Secretary is supposed to be responsible for maintaining most of the communication between the Grand Camp and the local units, through correspondence; in addition there may be subcommittees such as the political committee which have certain responsibilities for communicating with the Camps.

Apparently there is considerable variation as to regularity of local meetings, and attendance at them. Just before an annual convention, when delegates must be elected and instructed, funds raised to cover their expenses, and resolutions drafted for presentation to the convention, interest runs high, and meetings tend to be both frequent and well-attended; after the convention, when delegates report, the same is true. At other times, there may be local problems that arouse interest. Between times interest may slacken, unless the camp's officers are adept at keeping it at high pitch.

Nearly every camp has its hall for meetings and other activities. Ketchikan and Petersburg were said to be the only places lacking halls in 1952, and the Ketchikan Camp arranged to purchase a building in the fall of 1953. These Brotherhood halls vary from old, none-too-large structures in need of repair to huge well-equipped buildings like the new one at Hoonah, just completed in time for the 1952 convention at a cost of nearly $50,000.13 Typically, they have an open floor area, large enough for a basketball court (though some courts are on the small side), that serves as well for public meetings, the showing of motion pictures, and large social functions, a stage at one end of the court, rest rooms, and frequently a well-equipped kitchen for preparing and serving refreshments. Heating plants vary from wood stoves to the most modern type of oil furnaces with blower systems. These halls fill a major need in the social life of the villages, where there are no other adequate gathering places for group activities (some village churches of course have lounges or social rooms, and some schools have rooms that can be made available, but the Brotherhood hall is not only neutral ground, and regarded as really community property, but it also is spacious enough for almost any local need). This usage has the virtue of focusing attention on the Brotherhood, and making its hall the community center in a very real sense.

An aspect of the camp organization that should be noted is the insistence of the old local groups on maintaining their identities in a number of cases, Elderly informants and early observers agree that the Tlingit "tribes," the several clan lineages that jointly shared a winter village, had no real unity. The autonomous political unit was the local clan. Nonetheless, while there may have been no formal unity in the winter-village group composed of several clans, there was at least a feeling it was preferable to associate with one's neighbors, rather than with complete outsiders. Various people have recommended the merging of the Juneau and Douglas Camps, for example. The two communities are not far apart and now have facile access via good roads. The "real" Juneau people, excluding the casual visitors to town who for the most part do not participate in local Camp activities in the city anyway, are principally descendants of the inhabitants of the old winter village at Auk Bay. The Douglas group are descendants of the old Takukwan (Taku Inlet people). Nonetheless, the two small camps were organized separately in the beginning and have maintained that separation up to the present day. The same is true of the camps at Ketchikan and Saxman. They also have remained separate and distinct, although it would seem more efficient for them to join forces. The Saxman people consist primarily of the old Sanyakwan or "People of Cape Fox," and the Indian community of Ketchikan consists principally of the descendants of the Tongass group plus a sprinkling of outsiders from various parts of southern Alaska as well as a good many Tsimshian from Metlakatla. While Sanyakwan and Tongasskwan have been neighbors and are considerably interrelated through ties of blood and marriage and have been so for generations, they have regarded themselves as separate groups and continue to do so today. Their local chapters of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Sisterhood are quite separate.

The initiation fee to membership in the local Camps is $10, and the annual dues are $12 (the latter having been increased since publication of the 1948 edition of the constitution). Fifty percent of the initiation fees and annual dues collected by the local camps must be forwarded to the Grand Treasurer for the use of the Grand Camp. In addition, each local camp is assessed a certain amount of money by the annual convention (this sum is designated the "annual budget"). These assessments range from $400 each which the Sitka and the Wrangell camps were assessed for the year 1952-53, to $150 assessed each of the camps at Haines, Saxman, and Petersburg for the same period. Normally the local Brotherhood camp attempts to raise half of this fund and the local Sisterhood the other half. In actual practice it is commonly admitted that the Sisterhood usually raises most of the money.

The expenses of the Grand Camp as of 1952 include the following: the Grand Secretary's salary of $1,800 a year; the Grand Treasurer's salary of $480 a year; a substantial amount ($3,000 approved for 1952-53) for use by the Executive Committee primarily in traveling expenses for meetings and similar business; allocations for office expenses of the secretary and treasurer; and various funds for legislative and legal purposes, the latter ordinarily involving the financing of defense of test cases, or cases concerning issues in which the Brotherhood as a whole is interested. For example, the 1952 convention authorized allocation of a sum of money for appealing the case of an Indian who had been found guilty of violation of fishing laws and fined—for using commercial gear to take fish for domestic use at a time when commercial fishing was restricted.

The obvious need for regular communication between the Grand Camp (represented by the Executive Committee out of convention), and the local Camps, was solved for a time by the publication of the Alaska Fisherman. This journal, established in 1923, for a period of approximately 10 years, was the official organ of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. Each Camp was assessed a sum at an annual convention (presumably that of 1922) to be applied toward purchase of the press and establishment of the journal. The Kake camp is said to have made an especially generous contribution to the initial fund. Individual subscriptions helped meet operating costs, and in addition there was a certain income from advertising. The first few issues of the journal appeared somewhat irregularly, but by 1924 the numbers were published regularly once a month. The predominant tone of the journal was political in line with the philosophy already current that the most effective manner in which the Alaska Native Brotherhood could attain its ends was through developing and using political influence. Particularly during election years were there discussions in the journal of Territorial officials and elective officers. In many instances there was very blunt criticism of the actions or policies of these public servants. In addition there were articles published frequently dealing with various aspects of the major policies of the Brotherhood: better education for Indian children; frequent exhortations to Indians living in white communities to pay taxes (though they could not legally be forced to do so at that time) and otherwise perform their civic duties; continuation of the bitter campaign against fish traps; and occasional articles inveighing against continuance of ancient customs. In addition, of course, there were various news items concerning the activities of local camps and, if appropriate, discussions of the principal features of annual conventions of the Brotherhood as they were held.

The Alaska Fisherman ceased to appear in the early 1930's. Since that time the Alaska Native Brotherhood has made no consistent attempt to maintain communication between its various camps and to inform its members through any regularly published organ.14 Publication came to an end, according to one informant once connected with the staff, because of financial difficulties deriving from an unduly high overhead. Some persons insist the sale of the press that brought about the suspension of publication was arranged without the formal approval of the Brotherhood; a more probable version is that the plant was taken over by creditors through the usual legal steps. Many members of the organization took considerable pride in the journal and say that they would have liked to have it continued.


One is commonly told in the villages that "everyone [i.e., all the adults] in town" belongs either to the Alaska Native Brotherhood or to the Sisterhood. On questioning further, to find out who does not belong, and why, one meets with considerable reluctance on the part of informants to cite names and facts. The fact is that in most communities most of the adults are not members (at least in the technical sense of "paid-up members"), as the tabulation below shows. The figures on membership (table 1) were taken from the formal reports on "members in good standing" posted by each camp during the 1952 convention at Hoonah (a "member in good standing" is one who has paid his dues).

TABLE l.—Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood membership data, 1952


Alaska Native Brotherhood

Alaska Native Sisterhood

Total Indian Population(1)













Haines (2) (2)









Juneau (2)






































(1) Population figures are from House Rept. No. 2503 (82d Cong.), pp. 1547 ff.

(2) No report.

(3) About 800. Hoonah is omitted from the tabulation of population cited; figure is approximation.

(4) Petersburg is omitted from the tabulation cited; elsewhere, the same report gives 191 as the Indian population in 1947.

Filling the membership rolls is obviously something of a problem. It is not clear why this should be so, especially in the native villages (Indian residents of cities like Juneau, Sitka, and the rest, of course, have numerous distractions). Some persons with whom the matter was discussed believed that low-income level was to blame, especially in years of poor fishing seasons like 1952. Others compared the difficulty of collecting dues to that of collecting taxes, blaming the shortsighted attitude of individuals who are reluctant to put out money for which they do not get an immediate tangible return. Plain lack of interest may account for certain cases of failure to join or to remain in the organization. However, this reflects at most an indifferent attitude; there appears to be no formal opposition to the organization, individual or organized.

I was told by a number of people that there had been a Brotherhood Camp at Petersburg, but that it had become inactive "because most of the young Indian men from Petersburg are in the Army now." Yet in 1947 (the year of the most recent census figure I could find for that town), 191 persons classified as Indians lived in Petersburg. Perhaps there are fewer now, but one may suspect that loss of interest may have contributed to the demise of that chapter. People do not like to admit this, however. Apparently the A.N.B. has become a symbol of Indian solidarity in southeast Alaska, so there seems to be a feeling that all Indians should be interested in it, and should belong to it.

Again, Hoonah, the largest Indian village in southeast Alaska, reported a total of 35 members in good standing in the Brotherhood and 40 in the Sisterhood. Of course it is true that most of the people in the community cooperate with the Brotherhood and Sisterhood and support them in various other ways. For example, I was told by the man who acted as timekeeper, that when the new Alaska Native Brotherhood hall at Hoonah was being put up early in 1952, one hundred fifty-some-odd men volunteered for labor, turning out in one or the other of the usual three work gangs during the 2 months it took to complete the rough construction.15 In the weeks immediately preceding the convention during which the interior of the hall was finished and the specialized jobs such as installing of wiring, plumbing, heating plant, etc. were being carried on, there was no lack of assistance. In other words, most of the young and middle-aged able-bodied men and many of the elderly ones gave liberal free labor to help build the hall. They also contributed a considerable sum of money for the purchase of materials. A great deal of this was raised by donations. Numerous individuals, whether members in good standing or not, attended regular A.N.B. meetings and would find occasion to take the floor and announce a certain donation toward the hall. Benefit movies were also shown for the hall and were very well attended by the members of the community who contributed in that way. I do not have a detailed breakdown on the source of funds (except that I was told that various camps sent $100 contributions to assist construction of the new hall after the old one burned down), but most of the $11,700 reported by the Hoonah camp as the cost of materials for the hall was raised locally and represents donations by local people. In other words, despite what appears to be rather low membership, the Hoonah Camp could count on and get very substantial local support.

Perusal of the membership reports brings out the interesting fact that in 9 out of the 12 cases in which figures were given for both Brotherhood and Sisterhood camps, the women's organizations had larger paid-up memberships. This is consistent with the generally recognized greater activity of the Sisterhood camps, and their. great effectiveness in fund raising. For example, at Angoon I was told that the Sisterhood chapter met early on the evening at which financial arrangements were to be made for sending the Angoon delegation to the 1952 convention. When the men finally assembled, the women proudly announced that there was nothing left to arrange: the Sisterhood had collected all the money necessary. This sort of thing appears to be typical, and is one of the chief reasons for the oft-repeated saying that "the Alaska Native Sisterhood is the backbone of the Brotherhood."

It is recognized by the leaders of the Brotherhood and of the Sisterhood that if the organizations are to continue successfully they must bring in the younger people. Various methods have been, and are being, tried to interest the younger generation in the work of the Brotherhood. There are various conflicting factors. In the Indian communities forming parts of the predominantly white towns like Wrangell and Juneau, not only are there numerous diversions and many distracting interests, but the young people's lesser familiarity with the Tlingit language in daily life and the elders' insistence on its use at the local meetings is considered a serious factor in alienating the younger people. Some years ago a plan was inaugurated of establishing junior Brotherhood and Sisterhood camps in all communities. These organizations did not require payment of dues, or at most required members to pay very modest dues, and were primarily aimed at giving the youths experience in conducting meetings according to parliamentary procedure and performing various minor services for the community. The idea was that as these young people grew older and began to be gainfully employed they would be "graduated" to membership in the senior chapter.16 There were for a time chapters of the junior organizations at the secondary schools at Sitka, the Sheldon Jackson School and the Government-operated Mount Edgecumbe. These junior organizations did not prove very successful. Apparently there was not enough for the young people to do, not enough real accomplishment open to them to maintain interest among the membership; at least this seems to have been true in most cases.

The chapters at the two secondary schools seem to have been more active and probably were more effectively supervised by certain of the teachers who utilized them in training in student government. In one instance one of the younger organizations that seems to have functioned more effectively and kept going while most of the others had fallen by the wayside, that in Juneau, became involved in a feud with its parent organization. A group of its older members insisted that they did not have to transfer membership to the old people's organization "where all they would do would be to hear the old people make interminable speeches" in a language the young men did not understand—Tlingit—and contribute their dues. They insisted they wanted to become a separate chapter with full adult standing. This caused considerable hard feeling. Finally, the charter of the junior organization was revoked at an annual convention, and the whole junior chapter plan was abandoned. It developed at the Hoonah convention in 1952, however, that the dozen or so members of the Sisterhood Camp at Petersburg had unofficially established a junior Sisterhood chapter there which after a couple of years was proving highly successful. It was, in their estimation, the only way that they could stimulate interest and could expect to recruit young women into the older group eventually. Some of the members gave the girls' organization active and intelligent supervision and were making quite a success of it. It was finally resolved that the convention should issue a formal charter to the junior group, establishing them as a junior Sisterhood Camp. Incidentally, it was related that in addition to the Indian and mixblood girls in this Petersburg group, the 35 members included several girls with minimal amounts of Indian blood, 2 white girls with no Indian blood at all, and 1 girl of Japanese descent.

Another approach to the problem of interesting younger people has been the formal support of A.N.B. basketball teams by the local camps. Basketball is a popular sport in the region and the A.N.B. halls with their large open floor areas are quite usable for the game, in fact many of them were designed to provide a court. Most of the camps sponsor local tournaments and arrange schedules with the A.N.B. teams of other communities. Some of the stronger chapters have also entered their teams in an all-Southeast Alaska Gold Medal basketball tournament sponsored by the Lions Club of Juneau. Several of the teams, although they did not end up among the upper-bracket groups, received awards for good sportsmanship. Of course, it is a fairly expensive undertaking to field a team in one of the tournaments, in consideration of the costs of uniforms and transportation and other expenses that must be met. However, it appears that the Camps that have been able to do it have benefited from increased interest in Brotherhood activities by the younger members of the community.

Another technique that has been utilized is to include a young man and a young woman in the delegation sent to an annual convention. Attending an annual convention of the Alaska Native Brotherhood is an impressive experience, as this writer can attest. Leaders in the organization feel that giving some of the younger people an opportunity to see the work that is done and the serious purpose behind the organization will rouse their interest. This is probably true. Several of the younger delegates volunteered comments along those lines during the convention at Hoonah. However, it seems possible that the very obvious retention of control by the elderly leaders through the "old China hand" organization of the Executive Committee, the assignment of the Executive Committee members as chairmen of all important committees during the convention, and dominance over other important offices tended to discourage the young people and in that way partly negate the value of the experience. A major step taken in 1953 to overcome this trend was the election of two progressive young men as Grand President and Grand Secretary.


Like fraternal orders and similar groups among the whites, the A.N.B. has its colors and badges. The colors are red and yellow, "red for the salmon and yellow for the gold of Alaska." The official sashes, worn over the right shoulder and under the left arm bandoleer-fashion, display these colors in the form of a wide strip of buckskin backed with red felt. The letters "ANB" are worked on the buckskin, usually, I believe, in the form of red felt applique. This combination is pleasing in effect, and the sashes, worn over dark suits on formal occasions such as installation of grand officers, are quite dressy. I do not know where them sashes come from; probably they are made up by members of the Sisterhood and sold for the benefit of the Sisterhood (and ultimately the Brotherhood) treasury. Displays of the colors in more common commercial tones are made with paper bunting to decorate the hall, on uniforms of basketball teams, and the like. Another sort of badge is the lapel pin, with a disk about 3/8-inch diameter displaying the letters "ANB" transversed by a stylized arrow, in gold on a white background. These are ordered from a commercial source by the Grand Treasurer for resale to members of the organization. Originally, the lapel pin had the form of a miniature gold pan, of gold, containing a couple of small nuggets (a motif that has since become highly commercialized in the Alaskan curio trade). I neglected to find out when the change in design was made, but only a handful of old-time members still have the gold-pan type of pins.

The Sisterhood has its own colors, blue and white, with symbolic reference taken from white American concepts: the blue represents fidelity ("true-blue"), the white, purity. These colors are used in the Sisterhood sashes. A wide blue band, with white edges, bears the letters "ANS" in white (applique or beadwork). On the ritual occasions, sashes are worn over rather plain white dresses, which, though short-sleeved and of modern length, somehow manage to suggest the unlovely "Mother Hubbards" imported by missionaries into the South Seas. I believe the Sisterhood has an official pin, but I neglected to make note of its design.

In addition to its visual symbols, the organization has its official song, as well, "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Formal meetings are opened with the singing of this stirring hymn. In its selection, missionary influence on the Brotherhood is manifest; in addition, the choice seems to symbolize, in the thinking of the members, the ideal of an aggressive attitude oriented toward "progress."


There is no question but that the leadership of the Alaska Native Brotherhood was of key significance in all the phases of the organization's development. Although the Brotherhood's structure and procedures do permit considerable rank-and-file expression both of area of interest and of opinion, through the camps' resolutions drafted before each annual convention, most definition of policy and strategy occurs on the Executive Committee level. It is therefore worth while to examine the patterns of leadership. I may add also that this is a difficult undertaking. There have been differences of opinion, and personality conflicts as well, in the organization, which from the historian's point of view complicate the process of description. In these situations, practically all informants have taken a stand one way or the other, and thus their data are biased toward one or the other side.

We may begin with that aspect of the problem that can be treated in general terms; one which does not involve individual personalities. The founders of the Alaska Native Brotherhood exemplify one important leadership pattern. All of them, so far as I was able to learn, were highly acculturated individuals. The majority were residents of Sitka, either members of the Sitka Indian community, or persons who had lived there a long time. Most of the founders had been educated in the Sitka Training School; all were strongly influenced by Presbyterian missionaries, and were themselves quite active in church affairs. They were therefore quite prominent among acculturated, mission-minded Indians—and it will be recalled that at about the time of the association's founding, effective missionary activity had developed a tremendous interest in the Presbyterian Church. In other words, these men were in the fore, and much in the public eye, as leaders among the people inclined toward adoption of white standards and values, and at that day this included a large number of the Indians of southeast Alaska. It is worth mentioning, too, that the 10 founders were men who had achieved some success in adapting themselves to white American culture. At the same time, they found themselves hampered in dealings with whites by, first, their limited education (which, though advanced for Indians of the day, was inadequate to prepare them to compete on equal terms with whites), and, second, the ambiguous status of Alaskan natives.

Since even today the ancient attitude of respect toward persons of high rank prevails in southeast Alaska, it seemed logical to inquire into the statuses of the Brotherhood's founders in the native social system. This proved unexpectedly difficult. Informants who could be expected to know the most about chiefs' lineages, etc., tended to generalize: "Of course they (the founders) were high-class people—otherwise we would not have paid any attention to them." The reluctance to go into detail on this topic, and what seemed to me to be a slightly defensive attitude in regard to it, suggested to me that some, at least, of the Brotherhood's founders were actually not of high-rank families. Several of them, whatever their kinship to noble lines may have been, had been so separated from their proper clans that they could not have relied on the organized support of these units. Peter Simpson, for example, was a Tsimshian originally from Metlakatla. While the Metlakatlans of his generation remained far more conscious of clan, rank, and tribe than Father Duncan realized, Simpson, who had lived at Sitka for years, had no real backing from his own people. Mr. Ralph Young, who was, in 1952, the only surviving member of the 10 founders and who played the role of elder statesman most skillfully, though born and brought up at Sitka (like at least two generations of his forebears), was considered to really "belong" to another community—Hoonah or Angoon, which, my notes do not make clear. His following at Sitka came from those of all clans and ranks who respected him for his progressive attitude toward culture change, and had nothing to do with such rank and status as he may have had. Eli Katanuk, of Angoon, on the other hand, was definitely of good family, and was closely related to a clan chief. The men who joined the movement during its early years, and who attained some eminence among the leaders, included a number of bearers of important titles. Chester Worthington, of Wrangell, was said to have been one of these. Louis Shotridge, a Chilkat who was associated with the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania for many years, was of high rank. I do not know just what the Rev. Edward Marsden's title would have been, had the Metlakatlans not abandoned the custom of formally bestowing those hereditary honors, but he was of the Gitlan tribe, and well-enough connected so that he had the solid backing of that close-knit and powerful faction in all village affairs, although he apparently did not attempt to lead his people into the Brotherhood. In fine, the general picture seems to be that in its early years, A.N.B. leaders came from the sectors of the Indian population who were already most acculturated, and thus most aware of the problems involved in competing in the white man's world. Some were of high rank, holders of important titles; others probably were not; at the time it made no difference, even among the rank-conscious Tlingit (and Haida). What mattered was that these men were taking the lead in the attempt to work out a solution of the Indian's problem, one which was coming to be of great popular interest.

The same pattern continued to operate in subsequent years. As better educated young men, some of whom had attended Chemawa and Carlisle, in the States, and one or another of various universities, returned to Alaska, they were drawn into the leader group of the Brotherhood. Such men include William L. Paul, Sr., and his brother Louis, Andrew Hope, Sr., Frank G. Johnson, Frank Peratrovich, and others among their contemporaries. As in the case of the early leaders, some of these men were, and some were not, high in the native social scale. They were accepted as leaders because of their sophistication and ability to cope with white culture, and with white men, on even terms. This situation is about what one would predict for a group among whom acculturation had become a major interest, even though attitudes toward rank did not change the while.

On a different echelon, that of the local level, a very different leadership pattern occurred. There, the active leaders in Brotherhood affairs, those who got the individual camps organized, and who managed them for years, either directly or through variations on the power-behind-the-throne motif, were in the greater number of cases chiefs, men who held ranking titles in their respective clans, or were in the line of succession to such titles. Many of these men were "conservatives" in many respects, especially in those relating to the traditional social usages—they performed the appropriate memorial rites, and formally assumed their ancestor's titles (clan-owned "chief's names"). The significant point is that these chiefs were, so to speak, selectively conservative. They held the line most stubbornly in some matters; in others, they were as enthusiastic for culture change as any of the educated young sophisticates. Numerous examples might be cited; I shall mention only a few. Charlie Jones, holder of the "Chief Shakes" (wicekc) title at Wrangell, an elderly man when the Brotherhood was established, became (apparently through Worthington's influence) one of its most ardent supporters.17 He did not attempt to operate on the Executive Committee level—he spoke little English, and was not literate. But he did make a point of organizing a camp among the Stikine, seeing that interest in it was sustained, and in encouraging young men to participate actively. William Paul, Sr., has assured me that his own original interest in the organization, when he returned to Alaska after completing his education, was largely aroused because of wicekc influence and urging. Jimmy Young, of Hoonah, who is the chief of the Tcukunedi clan there, built, with appropriate ceremonies, one of the two clan houses at Hoonah to replace his former clan house, after the holocaust of 1944 that destroyed the village. Throughout his life he is reported to have been meticulous in carrying out his clan duties, and those connected with his status. At the same time, he is considered to have been the founder of the Hoonah Brotherhood Camp, the person who took the lead in getting the local unit started. He took a very active part in camp affairs for many years. Charles Newton, at Kake, who was a key figure in the Salvation Army organization there, as well as in the local Brotherhood Camp, was also a clan chief. Sam Johnson of Angoon, although he delayed in assuming his hereditary name until a few years ago, has been active in Angoon camp affairs since the chapter was founded. He emphasized that his (maternal) uncle, the chief whose title he eventually inherited, had urged him to take part in the new organization.

There appear to be several factors involved in each of these cases and the many others that could be listed. One of these is that all these men were, and are, natural leaders. When a new movement came along, they assumed it would be their responsibility to take the lead in adopting it, or blocking it, and the mass of the people looked to them for a decision. A second factor, which perhaps partly motivated the response just mentioned, is an attribute of chieftainship, in the "old-fashioned" Northwest Coast sense, which has not been adequately stressed in ethnographic descriptions. This is the obligation borne by a chief to exercise whatever powers he had, for the welfare of his people (that is, his clan, extended family, or whatever unit he headed), in return for the support his social unit gave him. Naturally, not all chiefs on the coast have given serious consideration to this recognized duty, but many of them have. Thus, a program that claimed betterment of the Indian's situation as its primary target was certain to receive thoughtful consideration and eventual support from just those chiefs who were most rigorously traditionalist in their general outlook. Third, it has so happened that the areas of interest of Tlingit conservatism and those of both missionary and Brotherhood progressivism do not overlap, by and large. This point will be elaborated on in another chapter, so I shall touch on it but lightly here, but it is unquestionably true. Such conflicts as did occur could be rationalized away by anyone with a modicum of ability for logical thought, mainly because of some peculiar misconstructions by early missionaries. Thus, the institution of the potlatch was condemned by many missionaries, and by the Brotherhood in its early days, as a pagan religious performance. One man told me of the study, the deep thought, and the soul searching he went through before he decided that he, a sincere, practicing Christian (indeed, he is a pillar of his church), a longtime active member of his Brotherhood Camp, could have his clan's house rebuilt, which necessarily meant that he must give a potlatch and assume the "chief's name" his maternal ancestors had proudly borne. He was able to resolve his doubts, so that he could carry out his duties to his clan. How he did so will be related in detail in another place; suffice it to say here that he arrived at a reasonable, satisfying conclusion.

Another factor motivating the clan chiefs to favor the Brotherhood was that many of them were already more deeply involved in commercial activities of white culture than the average Indian. That is to say, they were competing for big stakes in a bitter game whose rules they had to learn as they went along. That they have done as well as they have is all to their credit—the number of large well fitted-out seine boats in the fishing fleet owned by "conservative" chiefs or their immediate heirs speaks well for the acumen of those men, even allowing for such factors as financial assistance from the clan, favoritism by cannery managers (because of a chief's control over his classmates), etc. In any case, most of them knew from firsthand experience the handicaps the Indian labored under in the increasingly higher-pressured new economy, and might be expected to favor anything that would smooth the way for themselves, their children, and their heirs.

The general membership—the rank and file—appear to be pretty well-informed on Alaska Native Brotherhood policy as a whole, and on the history of the organization, although there are lacunae here and there in their information, and some of their facts have been interpreted with a factional slant. This seems to be the result of the regular meetings of the local units, and the efforts of Grand Secretaries to disseminate information by circular letters, and the like, since the Brotherhood's official magazine went out of business in the 1930's. There is a very marked feeling that the A.N.B. is the strength of the Indians, and all Indians, despite local rivalries, etc., should favor it. This attitude prevails among nonmembers, that is, people who are hopelessly behind in their dues, as previously remarked. There is no real opposition to the organization among the Tlingit, Haida, and most Tsimshian residing away from Metlakatla.18

The other aspect of organization leadership, which does not break down into general categories, but refers directly to personalities and personality clashes within the organization, must be taken up. While outwardly—that is to say toward whites in general, and toward certain Federal agencies with whose policies the Brotherhood disagrees—by mutual consent there is ordinarily (though not invariably) a united front, in the privacy of meetings of the association conflicts may come to sharp expression. The leadership is split into two major factions which oppose each other on numerous issues. This split extends to the rank-and-file of the organization. In some cases, at the local level the factionalism is accentuated by village factional patterns.

One of the divisions is that headed by William L. Paul, Sr., originally of Wrangell, who was ably seconded for many years by his brother, the late Louis F. Paul. The other faction, which currently includes a number of outstanding Indians, represents all opposition movement which was begun by Frank Peratrovich, of Klawock. Many modem informants are inclined to recount the history of their organization in terms of the early rise to dominance of the Paul brothers, the development of the opposition faction, and its gradual assumption of power. It is certain that these internal aspects of the Brotherhood's history have influenced it greatly.

Both of the Paul brothers, who were children of highly acculturated mixblood parents, left Alaska at an early age, attending Carlisle and other educational institutions in the States. Louis returned to Alaska about 1918. According to William Paul, Louis became interested in the Brotherhood almost by chance. He was virtually high-pressured into attending a convention to serve as recording secretary, in the absence of the Rev. Edward Marsden, who up to that time had had a sort of monopoly on the position by virtue of his superior education.19 Louis Paul's interest in the Brotherhood and its goals expanded, and, with characteristic incisiveness, he reformulated the somewhat vague aims of the founders, sharpening them into attacks on specific targets. When William Paul returned to Alaska a couple of years later, his brother Louis, and, so he related, the then "Chief Shakes," at Wrangell, urged him, and finally persuaded him, to join the organization. William Paul brought the Alaska Native Brotherhood a new resource, one which affected its strategy ever after his affiliation. He had not only studied law, but had been admitted to practice before the bar.20 From the time of his entry, Brotherhood strategy has stressed attacks involving legal techniques—the lawsuit, the test case, etc.—on its problems. Informants' stated opinions differ as to the extent of effective support given by the organization to Paul's early campaigns, According to his partisans, William Paul fought his early battles practically single-handed. He had the mass approval of the entire Indian population of the Territory, but effective aid was next to nonexistent. Paul's opponents claim that while his early victories were signal achievements, the Brotherhood gave him considerable active backing, financially and in other ways. No one attempts to detract from his accomplishments.

Mr. Paul from the outset labored under several major handicaps. Owing to his prolonged absence from Alaska in his youthful years, he could not speak or understand Tlingit adequately, and he knew very little of traditional Tlingit values, standards, and etiquette. Although in recent years he has made great efforts to improve his knowledge in these areas, he has from time to time unintentionally offended numerous important people among his socially sensitive compatriots. (His brother Louis, who for some reason was much more fluent in Tlingit and who understood the value system better, was able to smooth over some but not all of the conflicts thus occasioned.) The difficulty is compounded by the fact that Paul habitually utilizes many of the typical aggressive mannerisms of the trial lawyer, which are by no means congenial to traditionalist Tlingit. Also, Paul devoted himself to Brotherhood work on very nearly a full-time basis. He visited local chapters to help to build up membership, he handled Indian legal actions major and minor, he operated the official journal, the "Alaska Fisherman," he studied fields which he thought the Brotherhood might enter—labor relations, political action, various commercial enterprises such as canneries, logging operations, etc. (in connection with the Indian Reorganization Act). To be able to devote so much of his time to this work, he had to more or less monopolize the few salaried posts in the organization: the grand secretaryship, the editorship of the Alaska Fisherman, and the like. In other words, he made a career of the Brotherhood movement, just as many white men do who devote their efforts to causes they consider worthy—trade unionism, welfare, and the sponsoring of scientific research. However, this laid him open to accusations of self-interest by fellow Indians with whom he had fallen out, or who were jealous of his prestige.

After Mr. Paul's entry into the organization, and his early victories in its behalf, such as those related to citizenship status and the right of Indian children to attend Territorial schools (both of which will be discussed in detail), he was backed solidly by the founders of the Brotherhood both for his achievements and as an outstanding example of what an Indian could accomplish through education. However, in the 1920's, more and more young Tlingit and Haida were returning to Alaska after receiving educations not only in Indian schools, but at "stateside" colleges and universities. Some had served in the Armed Forces during World War I. These men, in many cases, come from important Indian families and had been imbued with native traditions and attitudes, and at the same time had become highly sophisticated in regard to white American culture. At first, they lined up behind Paul, but as he tended to subordinate their opinions and activities to his own, began to form a rival faction.

Frank Peratrovich was one of the first of the younger educated Tlingit to break with Paul. According to his own account, he was motivated primarily by differences of opinion on certain major issues, and secondarily—and this is where his traditionalistic attitudes entered the picture—he resented Mr. Paul's rather brusque manner of cutting off elderly Indians who took the floor to make lengthy speeches. As anyone who has observed Northwest Coast Indians at formal gatherings knows, the ancient patterns call for orations. These formal speeches are often gems of rhetoric, by Indian literary standards, but they take incredibly long to get to the point (and some of them never get there). Paul, because of his sense of the need to make the most of convention time and the fact that he was unable to follow such speeches in Tlingit, had a way of peremptorily ruling such speakers out of order and gaveling them down. Finally, at a convention held at Haines, Peratrovich took the floor to deliver a resounding attack on Mr. Paul's methods. Initial reaction was not exactly what he had anticipated. As Mr. Peratrovich remarked, "For a time, I was about as popular in Indian circles as if I'd shown up with smallpox." But gradually more and more prominent Indians swung over to his side.

Mr. Paul's interpretation of the break stresses ill feeling carried over from ancient times because of feuds between Peratrovich's clan and his own, rather than difference of opinion and personality crash. It is my impression that this motivation is a secondary, not a primary one, though it does bring out the interesting fact that old inherited rancors still tend to be brought to light nowadays. However, it is ordinarily after people have fallen out that they revive these memories, using such taunts as: "We killed your great-grandfather and you were never able to avenge it," or "We took the name of your chief to use as a slave name," and the like. The interpretation is also interesting, as it indicates Mr. Paul's increased interest in Tlingit history and his growing appreciation of native attitude patterns.

As previously remarked, the opposition faction has gained strength in recent years. A certain stabilizing power appears to be held by a group who are not completely committed to either faction, but who vote and work with one or the other group as they think best. Some of these individuals are simply trying to carry water on both shoulders, others are independent thinkers who prefer to make up their own minds on issues, rather than voting the straight factional ticket.


A history of the Alaska Native Brotherhood would be inconsequential if it did not take into account the organization's external policies since its inception, its techniques for carrying them out, and the overall results. I use the somewhat awkward term "external policy" to characterize formalized attitudes and plans relating to matters beyond the organization's direct control—actually most policy of this type bears one way or another on the acculturational problem, and the contact (Indian-white) situation. Some aspects of other types of policy have already been referred to: such matters as the decision to found the publication the Alaska Fisherman, the constitution of the Executive Committee, the efforts to interest young people in the work of the Brotherhood and Sisterhood, are all policy determinations on one or another level, and have in common the fact that all relate to internal affairs of the organization. It seems well worthwhile, therefore, to discuss external policy separately to develop the theme of the present study: the organization's effect on the acculturative process.

Before embarking on a discussion of external policy, it is necessary to point out that there are two phases, historically, of this topic. In the earlier phase, from the founding of the organization until 1918-20, a number of issues were defined as the Brotherhood's prime targets, and their resolution its principal goal. From 1918-20 on, now planks were brought into the A.N.B. platform. Some of the early-phase issues were retained, it is true, but they were redefined and entirely new lines of attack on them were introduced. The cause of this new direction is no mystery at all. It was brought about by two individuals, William and Louis Paul, who as mentioned previously, became interested in the Brotherhood, associated themselves with it, and became extremely active in its work.


From the time of its founding until the transition point just mentioned, the Brotherhood's external policy was focused on three topics: (1) Recognition of the citizenship rights of the Indians of southeast Alaska; (2) education for the Indian; and (3) abolition of aboriginal customs, or at least of those popularly regarded by whites as "savage" and "uncivilized." All these three were considered to be inextricably interlocked as steps toward the Brotherhood's declared goal of "progress" (really, rapid and complete acculturation). Abandonment of ancient customs had already been defined by white authority as a prerequisite to achieving a "civilized way of life," without which the educational opportunities of the Indian would forever be restricted.21 Both "becoming civilized" and getting an education were thus necessary to achieve recognition of the Indian's claim to citizenship, the major landmark on the road to complete cultural assimilation.

The reason that acquisition of full and equal citizenship was a legally complex problem had its origin on the one hand in Territorial history, and on the other in white American attitudes conditioned by dealings with stateside Indians. To begin with, Russian claims to southeast Alaska were based on "discovery," in the ethnocentric European usage of that term which quite overlooked the fact that the Indians had "discovered" the region long before. Despite their maintenance of garrison forces the Russians could not honestly claim the land by right of conquest. In one major passage at arms that occurred, that at Sitka in 1802, they had been soundly defeated. There is little doubt that, during the Russian occupation, while the Tlingit clans were numerous and strong, the Russians were allowed to remain only because the Indians found it convenient to let them operate trading centers. During their epoch of occupation, which was never anything but marginal in this part of Alaska, the Russians made no treaties or other legal agreements with the Indians whereby the status of the latter was defined. It is true that the "pagan, uncivilized tribes" were mentioned in Article 3 of the Russo-American Treaty for sale of Alaska, but, though Cohen belabors the point in his discussion of the legal status of Alaskan natives (Cohen, 1945, passim), this was no more than admission that such people existed, and did nothing to clarify their position. A clear-cut definition of their legal status perhaps could have been worked out, but never was.

After completion of the purchase of Alaska, the United States similarly failed to make any formal agreements with the natives, although to the south the drafting of Indian treaties had been routine since colonial times. Thus the Alaskan natives did not become "wards of the Government," in the same way in which Indian groups in the States did as the result of their treaties (in which they ceded certain land rights and agreed to live on "reservations" set aside for them in return for various grants and subsidies). In the absence of any such treaties or of legislation specifically restricting their status, the Tlingit and Haida before long came to consider themselves American citizens, with all rights and duties thereof. White Alaskans, however, used to dealing with Indians in the States who were "wards of the Government," refused to permit Alaskan natives to exercise their prerogatives. The Tlingit and Haida more and more emphatically asserted that they were not, and never had been, "wards," and cast about for ways to wipe that bar sinister from their shield.

In passing, it may be well to point out that Cohen's assertion that Alaskan natives were, and are, wards (Cohen, 1945, passim), must be regarded as Cohen's opinion, perhaps a correct one, legally speaking, but a matter which was subject to debate for many years. When Alaska was first purchased, the assumption was originally made that it was "Indian country," subject to the same regulation as areas so designated to the south. This of course put Alaskan natives in the same category as Indians in other United States areas. It was soon concluded that this opinion was incorrect, however. Therefore, Congress passed special legislation extending two provisions of the act of 1834 to Alaska, thereby prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages and firearms to Alaskan natives. Presumably Congress did so on the basis of its authority "to regulate commerce with the Indians.'' This legislation, however, did not of itself make native Alaskans "wards of the Government." Indeed, the fact that special legislation was required to regulate liquor and arms traffic suggests that the status of Alaskan Indians (and Eskimos) was regarded from the outset as differing from that of stateside "treaty Indians." There was obviously considerable doubt on this point on the part of the very Government department for which Cohen compiled his monumental work on Indian legislation. For many years native education and administration in Alaska was delegated by the Department of the Interior to a subordinate agency, the Bureau of Education, not to the extant Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was not until 1931 that the Bureau of Indian Affairs took over administration of native affairs in Alaska, and even then a special branch, the Alaska Native Service, was set up to do so. By that time, the citizenship problem had been resolved, and no one regarded southeast Alaskans as "wards" to the extent of restricting their status as free and equal United States citizens.

Citizenship and its inherent rights was no idle academic question at the time the Brotherhood was founded. There were all sorts of immediate implications of the white attitude that Indians were not entitled to full rights as citizens. One of the results was that Indians, in early days, were not permitted to file mining claims. Several Tlingit, it is said, were brazenly crowded out by claim jumpers, or by white friends whom they had asked to file for them. It is no coincidence at all that the official colors of the Brotherhood are red and yellow, "red for the salmon, and yellow for the gold," and that the original lapel pins were miniature gold pans.

The precise methods through which the founders and their early associates hoped to achieve recognized citizenship with all its rights seem to have been somewhat vague. Of course the problem was difficult. The unenfranchised person of restricted status who wants full equality has few weapons and limited avenues of attack. Like the meek who would inherit the earth, there is little he can do about it save wait and hope for some potent external force to intercede for him, The early leaders of the Brotherhood seem to have believed that if the Indian comported himself enough like a white American, the white man would eventually become benevolent and give the Indian his long-awaited rights. So far as I could learn, there were no specific plans for achieving any of the early goals, other than the generalized, rather ineffectual ones of urging fellow members to send their children to school, and inveighing against the continuance of ancient custom. From the wide field of aboriginal culture they singled out two principal targets for their disapproval: the use of the native tongue and the potlatch. It appears that this selection was based to a considerable extent on missionary attitudes. Of course, command of English was necessary for dealing with the whites, and in a general way correlated with the amount of formal schooling an individual had had. The stand against the potlatch, as will be brought out in more detail later on, seems to have been based to a great extent on missionary misconceptions as to what that institution was all about.


As has been stated, in about the years 1918-20 the external policies of the Alaska Native Brotherhood underwent a sharp revision. Most informants agree that not only did these changes coincide with the active entry of William and Louis Paul into the organization but that the new concepts were directly inspired by the Paul brothers themselves. William Paul, Sr., told me that it was his brother Louis (the first of the two to affiliate himself with the A.N.B.) who defined the educational issue in precise terms. Instead of the original vague and generalized stand in favor of "a good education for Indian children," Louis convinced the organization that it should take a specific stand against the "two-school system," in which the Indian children in white communities such as Juneau, Sitka, and Wrangell were made to attend separate schools operated by the Bureau of Education while white children attended Territorial schools. This latter stand involved simultaneously the discrimination issue, and, so it was claimed, the quality of the education. Citizenship remained an issue, but it was tied in by the Pauls with a new concept, that of forming the Brotherhood into an active political bloc as a means of influencing legislation favorable to the Indians. William Paul, with his legal training, also brought a new mode of approach to problems: attack through legal processes. Another new policy, one that was highly popular and thus at once aroused interest among Indians who previously had taken little notice of the A.N.B., and also won the sympathy of many white Alaskans, was the forthright stand taken against the use of fish traps in commercial fisheries. The salmon fishing in 1920 was poor in southeast Alaska. Although cannery owners insisted that they could not operate at a profit without these devices, many fishermen both Indian and white attributed the poor runs to the trips, on the grounds that the devices did not permit adequate escapement to the spawning grounds.


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