Chief Anatlaháash of the T’aaku Tribe

Background

Douglas Indian Association (DIA), is the historical federally recognized Tribe of the Juneau, Douglas and Auke Bay region.  While DIA also has members with other Alaska Native and American Indian lineage, it is primarily comprised of direct descendants of the Tribe’s original Base Roll membership originating from the T’aaḵu Kwáan and A’akw Kwáan clans which inhabited Anax YaatAndagan Yé (Douglas) and Dzantik’i Héeni (Juneau) since time immemorial. Some of the clans of DIA’s tribal territory are the Yanyeidí, Tsaateeneidí, Gaanaxádí, Ishkahittáan (T’aaku Kwáan), and L’eeneidí, Wooshkeetaan, L’uknax.adí (A’akw Kwáan).

DIA became a federally recognized tribe in 1934. Through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, the State of Alaska conveyed lands to Native corporations formed under ANCSA, but no lands were conveyed to the Tribe(s).

DIA’s traditional and historical territory encompasses the City and Borough of Juneau, as well as some areas to the east and north on Admiralty Island and the Chilkat Peninsula, to the south including Endicott Arm, and to the east into Canada in the areas of the Taku River and Atlin, B.C.

TRIBAL HISTORY

Tlingit people and their clans were well established and thriving in Southeast Alaska when European explorers made their first advances into the area in the 1700’s. The A’akw Kwáan and T’aaḵu Kwáan lived in harmony and shared villages in the Juneau and Douglas areas for centuries. Historical sources suggest some village sites on the Taku River and in the Juneau, Douglas, and Auke Bay areas had been inhabited for well over 750 years. Early settlement sites within the traditional territory of DIA includes Auke Village, as well as numerous areas around Juneau, Douglas and the outlying coastal islands.

A`akw Kwáan & T`aaku Kwáan Tlingit Villages

Auke Village Site where Auke Rec is now situated

A traditional village site founded by Tlingit ancestors in the heart of downtown Juneau, is known today as the Juneau Indian Village.

Juneau and Douglas Island were occupied by DIA ancestors. This area included the Juneau Indian Village and the Douglas Indian Village now known as Sandy Beach where the Treadwell Ice Arena is located.

Juneau Indian Village

Juneau and Douglas Island were occupied by DIA ancestors. This area included the Juneau Indian Village and the Douglas Indian Village now known as Sandy Beach where the Treadwell Ice Arena is located.

MAYFLOWER ISLAND

Mayflower Island across from the Douglas Indian Village was a traditional subsistence site which yielded a once healthy herring run and spawn for Tribal inhabitants. Mayflower Island was taken over by the Bureau of Land Management.

Tribal members spent winters at the Douglas Indian Village while others built their homes in the Juneau Indian Village. Traditional use campsites were located south of downtown Juneau on the shores of what is now Thane Road, Dupont, Point Salisbury, Point Bishop and beyond. Tribal members also spent summers at numerous fish camps on the Taku River. Children attended Mayflower Island School which was established by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the request of the Tribe. The school was later taken into ownership by the City of Douglas.

DOUGLAS INDIAN VILLAGE FIRE 1962

The Douglas Indian Village was burned in the summer of 1962 by the City of Douglas, when residents were known to be at their fish camps on the Taku River. Because of their desire to gain control of the Douglas Harbor project initiated by the Tribe with the BIA to strengthen and sustain its fishing livelihood, the City of Douglas found a way to seize ownership of the Village lands and force the removal of Tribal residents. City officials claimed that the Village was abandoned and invoked eminent domain. They seized control of the Village and burned homes, household belongings, fishing boats and net storage housed on this site. Tribal members were forced to relocate without any compensation for their lands, houses, fishing gear and personal possessions, and without the financial ability to secure or build new homes. Only a few were paid minimal reparations for the destruction and seizing of their property. As a result, Tribal members dispersed and it wasn’t until mid-1970s that Tribal members were able to reassemble to work to re-establish Tribal governance and leadership.

SITES OF CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The following photos show two current sites of historic and cultural significance and importance to the Douglas Indian Association.

       

        

BIA Native School in Douglas

The Tribe lobbied the BIA for a safe school for its children resulting in Mayflower School. When vacated, the Tribe was to become its owners. Instead, it was transferred to the City of Douglas following the 1962 destruction of the Douglas Indian village, and is now operated as a Montessori preschool.

Douglas Indian Cemetery

This Tribal cemetery in downtown Douglas represents only a small portion of its burial grounds in that area. Other Tribal graves remain underneath Douglas Highway and Gastineau School and extend to parts of surrounding residential areas.

TRADITIONAL & HISTORICAL LAND USES

Tlingit fisherman on the Taku Inlet

Before 1970, both Alaskans and non-Alaskans were allowed to commercially fish. Tribal families remained enthusiastic and strong in their vibrant fishing livelihoods and careful stewardship over the resources offered by the land and sea. Eventually, the influx of outside fishermen spurred the creation of the Limited Entry fisheries program which was based on a point system. Points were “earned” through a complex system, that denied points if a person did not fish during a particular year. Although some Native families were awarded permits, many more were denied, especially since Limited Entry was activated during the Vietnam War era when many Tribal members were away and overseas serving in the Armed Forces.

The Limited Entry system was forced on all who wanted to fish commercially. This worked out for some, but not for others, especially Alaska Native families whose primary livelihood, means of support and food source for their families, was fishing. When Limited Entry was conceived, there was no consultation with Tribes and Tribal members directly affected by this new law – including those whose restricted deed or “Trust” properties were connected with the Tribe’s fishing rights and fully warranted protection by the U.S. Government.

Traditional & Historical Territory of the A`akw Kwáan & T`aaku Kwáan

The map on the right shows the aboriginal use and ownership, as well as uses in 1946, of the lands within the DIA’s traditional Tribal territory. Documented Tlingit settlements include: Jaw Point on the Taku River; Taku Harbor; Pt. Salisbury and Pt. Bishop; Dupont, Thane, Sheep Creek; South Douglas, Sandy Beach, Mayflower Island and Savikko Park; the Juneau Indian Village; West Douglas, Middle Point, Pt. Hilda, Young’s Bay; Outer Point, North Douglas; Auke Village, Auke Bay, and Auke Lake; Lena Cove and Berner’s Bay.

DIA VIDEO SHOWCASE 

BY JUNEAU EMPIRE AND UAS RESEARCH 

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