SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The Theft of Taan ta Kwaan Lands in Ketchikan
By Aan Kadax Tseen aka Don Hoff Jr.


May 11, 2009

The low tidelands around Ketchikan, Alaska belong to the Taan ta Kwaan (Sea Lion People), also known as the Tongass Tribe. Encroachment or theft of Native lands in Ketchikan actually started during the Alaska gold rush in the late 1880's with so-called mining claims like Venetia Lode and Schoenbar Lode. It was during this time that Alaska Natives were unable to make mining claims on their own lands, because they were not citizens of the United States.

Saanya Kwaan (Cape Fox People). Ketchikan Creek was a Saanya Kwaan subsistence creek, until a marriage between a Tongass and Cape Fox. Cape Fox gave Ketchikan Creek as a wedding gift to the Gaanax adi Clan of the Taan ta Kwaan. This story was told to me by Ester Shea, Emma Williams and Mickey Denny.

"Ketchikan was initially settled because of its proximity to the great Ketchikan Creek salmon run by the time it was incorporated as a city, nearly half of the 95 individuals who signed an incorporation petition in 1900 were miners or employed by the mining industry", according to a story by Dave Kiffer titled," Mining, Once Ketchikan's Principal Industry".

Did you know that "Indian Town" had Reservation status in the early 1900's? Yes, and it could only can be created or extinguished by U.S. Congress. It never was.

Metlakatla was called Winter Village of the Taan ta Kwaan before it came a Tsimshian Reservation. There were fish canneries built around Ketchikan that lured tribal members in search of new jobs and new way of life. Tongass Tribe owned the low tide lands and lands around the mouth of Ketchikan Creek and was left alone until the newly incorporated City Father's wanted more lands to grow.

Illegal taxation and theft of Taan ta Kwaan properties by the City Fathers in the early 1900 are in the downtown area of Ketchikan. The City Fathers even went so far as sending a prominent Tongass Native leader to prison because his refused to sell his properties; they had no trials or charges to imprison him in an Oregon prison, but he later died in an insane asylum in Salem, Oregon. There were four other Taan ta Kwaan leaders that would not sell their properties and were imprisoned with no trials or charges. They also died in an insane asylum in Salem.

This is how the Tongass Tribe lost their lands in Ketchikan. To protect my mother's generation and my generation, we were not taught our language, history and culture or told these stories.

Taan ta Kwaan has land claims to Ketchikan Creek and surrounding lands including: Gravina Island, Pennock Island, Annette Island, Village Island, Cat Island, Duke Island, Percy Islands, Southeast side of Prince of Wales Island to Cape Chacon, Long Island and far south to Tongass Island and Portland Canal. Taan ta Kwaan claims two origins, the Nass River and Unuk River.

The Gaanax adi Clan is one of the oldest Clans if not the oldest in the Tlingit Nation, and deserves to get back our inherit rights to our land and sea.

In closing, we truly live in a brain-washed society, led to believe we are created equal in the United States.
This is my opinion only.

Aan Kadax Tseen aka Don Hoff Jr.
Gaanax adi Clan
Drife to Shore House/Raven House
Taan ta Kwaan
Hixson, TN

About: " Past: Vice Mayor/City Councilman-City of Ketchikan.
Board of Director-Ketchikan Public Ulitities.
O.S.H.A. Reviewboard member/Chairman-State of Alaska.
I.R.A. Councilman-Ketchikan Indian Community.
Tongass Tribe member-Gaanax adi Clan"

Received May 09, 2008 - Published May 11, 2009



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Ketchikan, Alaska