DECEMBER 25, 1869


With the Alaska Purchase, the U.S. Army built Fort Wrangell next to the Stikine-Tlingit village of Old Wrangell. To Americans, Tlingit law was based on “revenge.” In February 1869, this view led to the ingit “Kake War” in which the USS Saginaw bombarded 3 Tlingit villages. On Christmas 1869, Stikine villagers attended a party hosted by the soldiers that involved liquor. A Stikine named Lowan bit off the hostess’ finger in an altercation and left. Soldiers went after and killed him. The next day, Lowen’s father, Scutd-doo, shot & killed a trading post operator named Smith in “payment.” The Army set a deadline for Scutd-doo’s surrender. When it passed, the army bombarded the village. The Stikine sought a truce & Scutd-doo surrendered. Court martialed December 28th, he admitted killing Smith to make amends under Tlingit law and was hanged the next day. Later, it was determined that the army had no legal authority to try civilians in a court-martial and sentence them to death in the Department of Alaska.

  “An Indian Trouble-A White Man Murdered-Two Indians Killed-The Indian Rancho Shelled-Peace Restored,” Daily Alta California, January 25, 1870, p.1, California Digital Newspaper Collection.  Retrieved 7/6/2022, Daily Alta California 25 January 1870 — California Digital Newspaper Collection (
Photo: Eadward Moybridge, 1/1/1868. Village of Wrangall, Alaska.  Public Domain.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: