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Al Perkins
Al Perkins

Al Perkins was interviewed on February 23, 1999 by Kristen Griffin and Robi Craig at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. At the time of this interview, Al Perkins was in his 70s and was the Kaa Tlein, or recognized "Big Man" of the Sitka Kiks.ádi clan. His white hair was neatly combed back from his face, and he was dressed in slacks and an untucked short-sleeve striped collared shirt. Like his dress, Al Perkins' demeanor and interview style were casual and comfortable, and he was eager to share his knowledge. Prior to recording this interview, Mr. Perkins requested that questions concerning the 1804 Battle and related events be addressed to Mr. Mark Jacobs Jr., whom Mr. Perkins respects as a Tlingit historian and a relative (though of a different clan, Mr. Jacobs is a Kiks.ádi daxcháan -- a grandchild of the Kiks.ádi clan). In this interview, Al talks about the history of the Sitka National Historical Park, the Kiks.ádi clan, the community of Sitka, and other historical and ethnographical topics pertaining to Tlingit culture and Sitka. He also talks about his plans and preparations to commission the carving of a new totem pole to be raised at the Sitka National Historical Park Fort Site to commemorate "Chief Katlian." This unique pole depicting Raven clan crests from several different communities was raised in the fall of 1999 after considerable coordination by Mr. Perkins and generous donations from Tlingit clans, Native corporations, private companies and individuals. Mr. Perkins spent a great deal of time just getting permission to place all of these crests onto a single pole. (The picture of this pole at the Fort Site is included in this Jukebox Project with Mr. Perkins' permission.)

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 98-39-09

Project: Sitka National Historical Park Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Feb 23, 1999
Narrator(s): Al Perkins
Interviewer(s): Kristen Griffin, Robi Craig
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Personal background information

2) Subsistence lifestyle

3) Subsistence lifestyle continued

4) Old-time party

5) Getting food and the Chief Katlian Program

6) Kiks.ádi society

7) Council of Elders and women as tribal leaders

8) Kiks.ádi culture, people and the land claims issue

9) Congressional Committee hearings

10) Relationship with the White people and the government

11) Speaking the language and what the Park Center means to the people

12) Old days after the battle

13) Information and the way it is viewed by people

14) Leader of the Kiks.ádi people

15) Village and the land of the Kiks.ádi

16) Trying to get the land back after World War II

17) Remembering history

18) Believing in yourself

19) Entering the military and losing the way of his people

20) Why the Park is so important to the Kiks.ádi people

21) Place where grandmothers lived down there a long time ago

22) Sacred ground area

23) Place where people are buried

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Section 1: Sitka -- born there/ Nakwasina -- lived with mother/ grandparents/ Sitka -- subsistence/ conversationalists/ Salmon Lake/ Silver Bay/ fish -- sockeye/ Red Fish Bay -- salmon|

Section 2: Sunday -- no work/ food -- getting/ clams -- digging/ crabs/ berries/ elders/ food -- fresh/ bear meat/ food -- providing for/ Park area -- holy/ Indian River/ smokehouses|

Section 3: salmon -- dried/ berries -- plentiful/ loghouses/ Indian River/ Jamestown/ Kiks.ádi/ Wrangell/ Kicks Bay/ ceremonies -- commemorating totem poles/ potlatches|

Section 4: oldtimers/ party -- organized by oldtimers/ elders -- old lady Coos?/ Mr. Bromer? -- from Yakatat/ Mrs. Shay? -- from Ketchikan/ last show/ program -- for our children/ information -- needs to go to right people/ community -- gets information/ Tlingit society/|

Section 5: last leader -- designated/ Uncle Wanamaker/ work -- in mines/ laws -- prohibited taking salmon/ Chief Katlian Program/ Kiks.ádi tribe -- Juneau/ Wilson/ Marxist/ Wanamakers/ Kiks.ádi society/ Western society -- not educated in Native way of life|

Section 6: Tlingit society -- taught way of life/ Lewis, George -- tutor/ ancestors -- never forget/ leaders -- passed on/ Chief Katlian/ Uncle Wanamaker/ married -- white person/ children/ prejudice/ children -- adopt Western ways|

Section 7: council/ Mrs. Thunker?/ Mrs. Marks/ Mrs. Perkins/ Mrs. Spencer/ women -- tribal leaders/ men -- killed/ conflict/ grandmother -- Mrs. Spencer/ chairperson/ Kiks.ádi/ Lewis, Esther/ Kiks.ádi country|

Section 8: Kiks.ádi country/ Russians -- fought/ battle -- Fort Site/ Chief Katlian -- shot/ Old Sitka/ language -- original/ land claims issue/ community -- best people selected/ uncle -- Mr. Liberty/ Washington, D.C./ attorney/ Paul, William/ committee -- hearings/ people -- represented|

Section 9: Paul, William/ Tlingit society/ U.S. Government -- sued/ information -- passed on/ staff -- Tlingit/ honesty/ land -- taken away/ survival|

Section 10: savages/ Civil War/ Paul, William/ Congress/ land -- lost/ land -- get back/ Russia/ oil/ settlement|

Section 11: Park Service/ spending time out there/ river banks -- lived/ responsibility/ Western culture -- taking over/ Littlefield, Robby/ Hoonah/ Mrs. Tilton?/ Park Center -- sacred ground|

Section 12: battle -- after it was over/ Mr. Lewis/ Chief Katlian/ men -- uncles/ old days/ women -- respected/ women -- answer for survival/ contradictions/ Park Service/ University of Alaska/ Mr. Thornton?/ ?, Herbert|

Section 13: young people/ Chief Katlian/ history books -- wrong/ Grandmom/ married -- White person/ not accepted|

Section 14: leader/ grandmother/ history -- forgot so much/ Juneau museum/ resentment/ listen -- in anger/ people -- jealous of Kiks.ádi country/ land --Kiks.ádi/ Mr. Edgecumbe/ land -- by the volcano|

Section 15: Jamestown/ protected area/ Sitka/ subsistence/ grandfather -- Charlie Bennett/ Mrs. Bennett/ Bennett, Joe -- uncle/ Redoubt Bay/ Mt. Edgecumbe/ smokehouse|

Section 16: islands -- filled in together/ U.S. government/ Juneau/ Sitka/ Washington, D.C./ Tlingit people|

Section 17: historians/ teaching/ nephew/ language/ history -- passed on/ story/ insult -- nobody|

Section 18: grandfather/ taught by leaders/ Jacobs, Mark/ Jacobs, Harold/ knowledge/ grandfather -- proud of/ grandmother/ history -- knowing it/ listening -- many times|

Section 19: service -- went into/ losing the way/ good leaders/ party/ old lady Duncan?/ artifacts/ grandmother Marks|

Section 20: sacred ground/ people -- buried/ Fort Site/ Red Fish Bay/ Daniels, Charley|

Section 21: place -- where you have to get out of in a hurry/ boats/ skiffs/ canoes/ traps/ stories/ beach -- sitting on/ hills -- people buried/ creek/ sacred grounds/ children -- buried/ clan houses/ smokehouses/ Jamestown Bay/ Kiks.ádi people|

Section 22: history -- knows well/ Castle Hill/ rebuilt/ Russians/ mother/ berries -- salmonberries/ plant -- wild turnip/ burials|

Section 23: no digging/ choices/ rock wall -- protect remains of people.