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Gil Truitt
Gil Truitt, Gil Truitt Current

Gil Truitt was interviewed on December 8, 1998 by Karen Brewster and Kristen Griffin at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. Mr. Truitt is a proud man with a pleasant demeanor who is mindful of proper Tlingit behavior, so carries himself in an almost formal manner. After a long career as a teacher and coach at Mount Edgecumbe High School, he is comfortable with public speaking in the interview context, and communicates his thoughts in a clear, straightforward manner. In this interview, Gil talks about his childhood in the Cottages Community neighboring Sitka National Historical Park and his relationship with the Park. He mentions individuals who influenced his life, like Mrs. Don Cameron, the role of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, education, sports and music at the Cottages, and his own education and career development. He also discusses fishing at Indian River in the Park when he was a boy, tourism, and teaching cultural values.


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1) Kristen Griffin introduces the project and the purpose of the interview

2) Growing up in the Cottage Community which bordered Sitka National Historical Park

3) Life in the Cottage Community and people's subsistence use of the Park area

4) Tlingit people's subsistence use of the Park and their deeper ties to the place

5) Learning from his grandmother and how education was stressed in the Cottages

6) Sitka's early educational system

7) His own educational background

8) His work experience as a teacher and coach

9) His years teaching and coaching adminstrator, and his interest in the history of basketball in Southeastern Alaska

10) The role of music in the Cottage Community, and culture change he has seen

11) The layout of and life in the Cottage Community

12) Collecting salmon at the Indian River in the Park when he was a boy and how the river has changed

13) Social activities in the Cottage Community and names of some of the community's residents

14) The Cottages history and its role in the development of local organizations

15) Women's activities at the Cottages, and the role of Sheldon Jackson School

16) The relationship between Sheldon Jackson School, the Cottages, and living a "clean" life

17) Troubles with alcohol in the community, and the relationship between the Cottages and local social and political organizations

18) The role of Cottage residents in developing local organizations continued

19) The history of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, and differences between the Cottages and the Tlingit village in Sitka

20) The role of the church in Sitka, and the importance of the Park to Sitka Kiks.aacute;di clan members

21) Kiks.aacute;di connections to the Park

22) Changes in the Park and its influence on Sitka

23) People selling Native arts and crafts to tourists at the Park, and the influence of tourist art on Tlingit culture

24) The history of the Alaska Native Brotherhood in Sitka

25) Growing up in the Cottages in such close proximity to Sheldon Jackson School

26) Life in the Cottage Community

27) Differences between the Cottages and the village, and influence of the military in Sitka

28) Basketball, relations with the military, and bonding created by sports

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

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Section 1: Sitka National Historical Park/ Sitka Tribe of Alaska/ University of Alaska Fairbanks/ Sitka/ Cottages|

Section 2: Sitka/ Cottage Community/ growing up/ Truitt, Gil -- mother/ James, Dorothy/ Truitt, Gil -- father/ Truitt, Joseph/ Truitt, Gil -- grandmother/ Katlian, Pauline/ family heritage/ punctuality -- importance of/ Sitka/ Totem Park/ Indian River/ Cottages -- history| Click here for image.

Section 3: Indian River: catching salmon Truitt, Gil -- grandfather/ James, Albert/ Cottages -- construction of/ Cottages -- history/ Simpson, Peter/ boatshop -- Peter Simpson's/ Totem Park/ subsistence/ herring -- eggs/ Indian River/ food -- gathering/ Sheldon Jackson School -- respect for/ smelt -- use of before his time|

Section 4: subsistence/ hunting -- deer/ deer -- scarcity of/ Truitt, Gil -- grandmother/ Cameron, Mrs. Don/ Thorton, Tom/ cultural research/ language -- Tlingit/ Kiks.ádi/ family history/ Russians/ battle|

Section 5: Truitt, Gil -- grandmother/ Cameron, Mrs. Don/ storytelling/ Cottages/ traditional knowledge -- lack of/ language -- Tlingit/ Simpson, Peter/ education -- importance of/ salvation/ culture|

Section 6: education/ school/ Sitka/ Bureau of Indian Affairs/ teachers/ teachers -- Native|

Section 7: college/ Harding University/ Arkansas/ Mount Edgecumbe School/ teacher/ Arizona State University/ family/ education|

Section 8: Sheldon Jackson School/ Wrangell Institute/ Ora Kuykendall, Oregon/ Mount Edgecumbe School -- opening/ coaching/ Alaska Native sports/ basketball|

Section 9: coaching/ teaching -- challenges of/ basketball/ Southeast Alaska/ basketball -- history of/ Cottages/ Cottage Hall/ Truitt, Gil -- mother/ music/ musicians|

Section 10: James family/ musicians/ alcoholism/ music -- disappearance of/ Hays, Ellen Hope/ Cottage Hall/ Cottages -- map of/ Simpson, Peter/ young people -- interest in/ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act| Click here for image.

Section 11: Simpson, Peter/ Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ Indian River/ foot trail/ Sheldon Jackson School/ smoke houses/ berries -- salmonberries/ salmon -- smoking/ baseball/ Visitor Center -- location of| Click here for image.

Section 12: Indian River/ fish -- Pink Salmon/ fishing/ fish -- disappearance/ military/ flood -- 1942|

Section 13: Cottage Hall/ Sitka Historical Society/ band concerts/ banquets/ Christmas/ family history/ Howard, George/ Simpson, Mary/ Sloan, Lilly/ Hearst, Bernard/ Hearst Chichigof Mine/ Sitka/ Portland|

Section 14: DeArmond, Bob/ Hearst family/ Cottage Hall -- use of/ basketball/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ Jackson, Sheldon/ Simpson, Peter/ Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall/ Littlefield, Esther/ American Legion|

Section 15: Cottages -- women/ basketball -- women/ Sheldon Jackson School/ Presbyterian Church/ Cottage Hall -- disappearance/ Brady, Isabella/ Hope, John|

Section 16: dances/ Sheldon Jackson School/ Cottage Hall - closing of/ Hope, John/ Mission/ control -- social/ change -- social/ Cottages -- concept of/ alcohol -- use of|

Section 17: alcoholism/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ judicial system/ Presbyterian rule|

Section 18: Cottage Community/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ Sheldon Jackson School/ Simpson, Peter -- influence on/ education/ "Native state"/ preamble| Click here for image.

Section 19: preamble -- intentions/ Cottages/ Simpson, Peter/ Young, Ralph/ Price, Frank/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ Newell, John/ education/ village -- separation of|

Section 20: Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall -- location of/ Mission/ Presbyterian Church/ Orthodox Church/ Katlian/ Kiks.ádi/ memorials/ Totem Park/ battle/ Russians|

Section 21: Kiks.ádi/ Truitt, Gil -- great-grandmother/ Cameron, Mrs. Don/ Totem Park/ songs/ Hope, John/ memorials/ World War II|

Section 22: flood/ bridge -- loss of/ Cottage Community/ employment -- variety/ entrepreneurs/ tourists/ Totem Park/ fishing -- salmon/ carpenter/ Price, Frank/ Young, Ralph/ boat builder/ Simpson, Peter/ Newell, John|

Section 23: entrepreneurs/ Village/ Kelly Street/ Cook, Mrs./ Shotridge, Louis/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ culture -- suppression of/ Hoonah/ Kake/ tourist trade|

Section 24: Hope, John/ Alaska Native Brotherhood/ Young, Ralph/ Native dancing -- lack of/ education -- emphasis on/ Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall -- historical landmark/ National Park Service/ Sheldon Jackson College/ Mount Edgecumbe School|

Section 25: Cottage Community/ growing up/ Sheldon Jackson School/ campus -- beauty of/ baseball/ basketball/ Weeks, Ralph -- coach/ Yaw, Leslie/ activities -- feeling welcome/ Wooster, Roland/ friendship -- lasting/ students -- influence of|

Section 26: Cottages -- loyalty to/ poverty/ food -- lack of/ subsistence -- importance of|

Section 27: Hays, Ellen Hope/ Cottage Community/ village -- differences with/ Totem Park/ Sheldon Jackson School/ Indian River/ Sunday School/ Dietrich, Herb/ life -- reflection on/ military/ Servicemen -- respect for|

Section 28: New York City/ Connecticut/ Final Four Basketball Tournament/ University of Connecticut/ military team -- fondness of/ basketball/ Mount Edgecumbe School/ activities -- lack of support|