FEBRUARY 15, 1869

KAKE WAR WITH THE TLINGIT

After Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, the US Army was assigned to oversee the new territory.  General Jefferson C. Davis entertained clan leaders on New Year’s 1869.  Koh Klux, a clan leader, insulted by a guard as he went through the stockade gate, grabbed the soldier’s rifle and walked off with it.  A violent confrontation followed ending with 2 Tlingit men dead.  Davis then ordered that people couldn’t leave Sitka; some Tlingit men tried to leave and were killed by sentries.  Relatives from Kake sought compensation, but Davis refused.  The relatives then killed two Americans in retaliation.  Upon hearing of the killings, Davis called in the Saginaw which, between February 15-17, attacked 3 deserted Kéex’ Kwáan Tlingit civilian villages, despite no active Tlingit resistance.  The ship bombarded and set ablaze the villages.  According to Kake oral history, one elderly woman stayed in Fossil Bluffs Village and was burned to death.  The villages were never reoccupied. 

Sources:  “Sitka’s Lost Decade, 1867-77, https://sitkaartblog.wordpress.com/tag/kake-war/
 Zachary R. Jones, “Search for and destroy”: US Army Relations with Alaska’s Tlingit Indians and the Kake War of 1869,” Ethnohistory 60, no. 1 (Winter 2013): 1-26. Cover essay.   Retrieved 6/28/2020, https://www.academia.edu/5175559/_Search_for_and_destroy_US_Army_Relations_with_Alaska_s_Tlingit_Indians_and_the_Kake_War_of_1869_Ethnohistory_60_no._1_Winter_2013_1-26._Cover_essay
Photo:  Unknown, c. 1860.  Public Domain.

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