DECEMBER 25, 1869

ARMY BOMBARDS STIKINE-TLINGIT VILLAGE OF KAACHXAANA.ÁAKʼW (OLD WRANGELL)

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.

Sources:
  “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 (ucr.edu)
Wikipedia
Photo: Eadward Moybridge, 1/1/1868. Village of Wrangall, Alaska.  Public Domain.  

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