SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Theft of Our Lands in Ketchikan - The Dark Days
By Don Hoff Jr.


September 02, 2006

The lands and all the low tidelands around Ketchikan area belongs to the Taan ta Kwaan (Sea lion People) or known as Tongass Tribe. Encroachment or theft of Native lands in Ketchikan actually started during the Alaska gold rush late 1880's with these so called mining claims like Venetia Lode or Schoenbar lode. It was during this time era, Alaska Natives were unable to make mining claims on their own lands because they were not citizens of the United States until 1929.

I will not forget the Saanya Kwaan (Cape Fox People). Cape Fox is our sister tribe and we are inter-married and lived around each other since time and memorial. Ketchikan Creek was Saanya Kwaan subsistence creek or summer fish camp 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 is told to me by Ester Shea, Emma Williams and Mickey Denny.

jpg totem

The Chief Johnson Totem or Kad-juk Hit totem. The original pole was carved and raised in 1901. The second pole was carved and re-dedicated in 1988 in the original spot as you see in the picture.

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 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 printed 7-28-06.

The dark days began. Tongass Tribe had villages on Tongass Island and Annette Island. Metlakatla was the 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 Council Fathers wanted more lands to grow.

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

Illegal taxations and thief of Taan ta Kwaan properties by the City Council Fathers in the early 1900's are in the downtown area. The City Fathers even went as far as sending a prominent Tongass Native leader to prison because he refused to sell his properties; they had no trials or charges to imprison him in an Oregon prison and he later died in insane asylum in Salem, Oregon and robbed of his lands. There were 4 other Taan ta Kwaan leaders that would not sell their properties and were imprisoned with no trials or charges. They also died in insane asylum in Salem, Oregon. This is how Tongass Tribe lost their lands in Ketchikan. This is the reason Tongass Tribe People kept quiet all these years so we wouldn't get killed in the early to mid-1900. 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 include; 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. Taan ta Kwaan claims two origins the Nass River and Unuk River. Any Land Claims to Ketchikan belongs to the Taan ta Kwaan. Taan ta Kwaan was left out of the initial Alaska Native Land Claims Act and should at the very least have a Village Corporation status like Cape Fox Village Corporation of Saxman, Alaska. The Gaanax adi Clan is one of the oldest Clans if not the oldest Clan in the Tlingit Nation and deserves the respect and to get back our inherent rights land claim from the City of Ketchikan and United States of America.

In closing, we truly live in a brain-washed society, led to believe we are created equal and justice for all in the United States and this history is not taught in our public schools. We will see what happens in the near future. This is my opinion only.

Aan Kadax Tseen aka Don Hoff Jr.
Gaanax adi Clan
Yei l Hit
Taan ta Kwaan
Hixson, TN - USA

About: "Aan Kadax Tseen aka Don Hoff Jr., Past City Councilman and Vice Mayor - City of Ketchikan; Past Board of Director - Ketchikan Public Utilities; Past O.S.H.A. Review Boardmember - State of Alaska; Past I.R.A. Councilman - Ketchikan Indian Community. Tongass Tribe member of the Gaanax adi Clan, Yei l Hit (Raven House). "



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