Russians in Tlingit America
Nora Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Lydia Black
University of Washington Press, 2008 - Social Science - 491 pages
The Battles of Sitka (1802 and 1804) were seminal events in the history of the Tlingit people, in the multicultural history of Alaska, and, ultimately, in the history of America. Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka / Russians in Tlingit America covers the period from the frist arrival of European and American fur traders in Tlingit territory to the establishment of a permanent Russian presence in the Pacific Northwest, presenting transcriptions and English translations of Tlingit oral traditions recorded almost fifty years ago and translations of newly available Russian historical documents. Although independent in origin and transmission, these accounts support one another to a remarkable degree on the main historical points. The Tlingit-Russian conflict is usually presented as a confrontation between "whites," with superior arms, and brave but outnumbered and poorly armed Natives. Northing could be further from the truth. The Tlingits saw themselves as victors even as they formally ceded to the Russian the site of their village and fort, now known as Sitka. Setting aside ancient rules of story ownership, a new generation of Tlingit clan leaders has decided to publish the stories told by their ancestors so that the Tlingit point of view would be known and succeeding generations would not forget their people's history. Including Russian historical documents, travelers' accounts of informal interactions between the formerly warring parties after the battles, and Dr. W. Schuhmacher's work on the role played by British and American skippers, Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka inquires into and provides some answers to the fundamental question, Who owns history? Photographs of objects now in Russian and American museums - from the favorite battle hammer of Tlingit war chief Katlian to the metal ceremonial hat Baranov commissioned for the peace ceremony - enrich the book, along with portraits of key historical figures and eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century charts of Tlingit territory. Also included is the journal of Dmitrii Tarkhanov, a gazetteer, a glossary, and Tlingit and Russian name lists.
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