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Kristen Griffin lived in Sitka, Alaska in the 1990s where she was a historian with the National Park Service and served as the Park Service's liaison to the Sitka National Historical Park Project Jukebox in 1998 and 1999. Her career in heritage preservation and cultural resource management has included working as an archaeologist in Washington, a National Park Service Historian in Alaska, and Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Spokane and Spokane County. Since 2014, Kristen has served as the Reserve Manager of Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve in Coupeville, Washington.
|Interview Title||Archive #: Oral History||Project||Abstract|
|Ellen Hope Hays, Interview 1, Part 2||98-39-01_PT.2||Sitka National Historical Park||
This is a continuation of the interview with Ellen Hope Hays on December 7, 1998 by Karen Brewster and Kristen Griffin at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. Robi Craig, Tribal Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe, was also present during the interview. Her responses in this interview indicate these are issues she has thought about before; she knew what she wanted to say. There was so much to discuss with Ellen that this interview carried over into a second day (Interview 2). In this second part of a three part interview, Ellen talks about installation of the Bicentennial Pole, the value and success of the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center and how important it has been to Alaska Native artists, the relationship between the Cultural Center and the community, and a 1990s oral history project. She also talks about photographs of Cultural Center artists and their work.
|Ellen Hope Hays, Interview 2||98-39-02||Sitka National Historical Park||
This is a continuation of the interview with Ellen Hope Hays on December 8, 1998 by Kristen Griffin and Karen Brewster at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. Robi Craig, Tribal Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe, was also present during the interview. There was so much to discuss with Ellen on the first day of her interview (Interview 1, Parts 1 and 2), that it carried over into a second day. In this third part of a three part interview, Ellen talks about the history and lifestyle of the Native people of Sitka, their experiences in the Cottages Community, and the importance of the Cottages. She looks at historic photographs related to the Cottages Community and identifies people in them and discusses what life was like in the Cottages, including community gatherings, attending church, and the role of music. She also talks about the relationship the Cottage residents had with Sitka National Historical Park and their use of the resources, the development and role of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Tlingit business ventures, and changes to the Cottages and Sitka. Finally, Ellen reflects on her life and work with the National Park Service and the importance of having Natives tell their own history.
|Ellen Hope Hays, Interview 1, Part 1||98-39-01_PT.1||Sitka National Historical Park||
Ellen Hope Hays was interviewed on December 7, 1998 by Karen Brewster and Kristen Griffin at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. Robi Craig, Tribal Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe, was also present during the interview. At the time of this interview, Ellen was living on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and this project supported her travel to Sitka to be interviewed. Ellen was a vivacious, petite, 70-year old who was an energetic and eloquent speaker. She obviously had been in an interview setting before and was comfortable with it. She'd take one question and run with it, thereby discussing topics that future questions had intended to address. Ellen carried herself with strength and pride and did not hesitate to speak her mind. Her responses in this interview indicated these were issues she has thought about before; she knew what she wanted to say. There was so much to discuss with Ellen that this interview carried over into a second day (Interview 2). In this first part of a three part interview, Ellen talks about her family background, her childhood growing up in the Cottages Community that neighbored Sitka National Historical Park, using the park as her playground, and her role in the development of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. She also talks about working to establish the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, history of and changes in Sitka, the relationship between the National Park Service and the community, and how she became park superintendent and then Native Liaison for the Alaska Region of the National Park Service. Finally, Ellen discusses the importance of maintaining her Tlingit identity and continuing Native cultural knowledge and practices, reflects on her career with the National Park Service and the value of Sitka National Historical Park and commemoration of the 1804 battle between the Kiks.'adi and the Russians, key Tlingit teachers and artists who worked at the Cultural Center, and the role of the Cultural Center in the community. At the end of the interview, Ellen talks about historic photographs related to the national park and installation of the Centennial House Post.
|Al Perkins||98-39-09||Sitka National Historical Park||
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.)
|Dave Galanin||98-39-15||Sitka National Historical Park||
David Galanin was interviewed on December 8, 1999 by Kristen Griffin and Karen Brewster at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska. According to Dave's wishes, the interview was tape recorded but not videotaped. At six feet tall, with broad shoulders, and a serious face, Dave created a strong presence in the room. He was a man of few, but eloquent, words. During the interview, Dave is casually leaned back in a chair with his feet propped up on a large block of wood waiting to be carved. He seems relaxed. His background as a radio DJ and his work on the History Pole gave him experience with public speaking and answering questions. He was in a bit of a hurry, with art projects to complete and an upcoming trip to the Te Ra Artfest 2000 in Gisborne, New Zealand to prepare for. In this interview, Dave talks about his work as a silver carver, artist, and Tlingit culture bearer. In addition, he discusses his connections with the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center and the important role the institution plays in the promotion of Alaska Native art and artists, and the Cultural Center's project to carve and raise the Indian River History Pole. This pole was unique in that it was a collaborative effort between clans and they chose to raise it "traditionally." It required a lot of instruction from elders and negotiating between clans. As Director of the Cultural Center Board at the time, Dave was in the center of it all -- all the joy, the celebration, the pride, as well as all the conflict, controversy and struggles to do things "right." Dave shows us some of what went on behind the scenes of this important event. He honestly shares his feelings about the Cultural Center, the pole project, and his artwork.
|Fred Hope||98-39-07||Sitka National Historical Park||
Fred Hope was interviewed by Robi Craig and Kristen Griffin on December 17, 1998 at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska offices in Sitka, Alaska. At the time of the interview, he was is in his mid-sixties, and appeared to be in excellent physical condition, despite walking with crutches as he recovered from recent hip surgery. In this interview, Fred talks about growing up in the Cottages Community and his relationship with Sitka National Historical Park, and about the historic relationship between the Kiks.ádi and the Russians. Specifically, he discusses the1804 Battle between the Kiks.ádi and the Russians, and the work he and his brother, Herb Hope, did to document, interview, and recreate the Sitka Kiks.ádi Survival March. The Sitka Kiks.ádi Survival March is the name given to the epic journey the Sitka Kiks.ádi clan made following the battle to escape the Russians. This survival march allowed the clan to remove itself from Sitka proper and travel to Chichagof Island. They settled on Chichagof Island and, as the Hopes describe it, established a trade embargo of sorts against the Russians residing in Sitka.
|Gil Truitt||98-39-03||Sitka National Historical Park||
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.
|Irene Jimmy||98-39-06||Sitka National Historical Park||
Irene Jimmy was interviewed on December 17, 1998 by Kristen Griffin and Robi Craig at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska office in Sitka, Alaska. She was in her early sixties, and was in good health from a lifestyle that included harvesting her own berries, fish, and spruce roots that she carefully prepared to use in her weaving projects. She spoke as a conscientious and thoughtful person respectful of traditional Tlingit protocol and the necessity of watching one's words for the damage that words can inflict if not measured and delivered with care. In this interview, Irene talks about her and her family's and clan's connections to Sitka National Historical Park, including harvesting spruce roots and berries there as a child with her mother, and says that she is grateful to the Park Service for its preservation and public access policies, because it is a location that is sacred to the Kiks.ádi clan. She also discusses her work as a weaver, the revival of traditional Tlingit art forms, the important role the park has played in the preservation of Tlingit art, and the history of the Tlingit and Russian battles in Sitka. Irene recalls as a child attending one of the memorial potlatches that was held at the Fort Site to recognize the Kiks.ádi clan's losses and standing in a circle and tearing cloth in memory of the clan members who lost their lives in the 1804 Battle.
|Jan Steinbright Jackson||98-39-04||Sitka National Historical Park||
Jan Steinbright Jackson was interviewed on December 9, 1998 by Karen Brewster and Kristen Griffin in the Regalia Room at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska. While the hope was to do the interview in Jan's office at the Cultural Center, the noise from the silver carver's grinding machine next door was too loud and would disrupt the tape recording, so the interview was done in another office in the building. We stopped by to see if she would have time for an interview later that day, and she said the only time she had was right then. So, we quickly set-up the recording equipment and started talking. Despite not having time to reflect on the topics and think about what she wanted to say, Jan was relaxed and did an excellent job of expressing her views and providing important information about the Cultural Center. In this interview, Jan talks about her work as the director of the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, the important role the facility has played in Native arts cultural preservation in Alaska, and the programs they operate to demonstrate and educate visitors about Native arts. She also discusses the Cultural Center's current projects, how artists are chosen and what they do at the Center, the importance of the Center to Alaska Native artists, the relationship between the Center and the community of Sitka, and the role of elders in the Center. As an artist herself, Jan advocates for the importance of art as a form of creative and cultural expression.
|Louise Brady||98-39-08||Sitka National Historical Park||
Louise Brady was interviewed on December 22, 1998 by Kristen Griffin at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska offices in Sitka, Alaska. Robi Craig, Tribal Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe, also was present at the interview. Louise has strong ties to the site of Sitka National Historical Park, and in this interview she talks about the traditional Kiks.ádi memorial services for clan members lost during the 1804 Battle between her clan and Russian forces, the importance of the Park to herself and to her clan, and discusses the meaning of the Tlingit term "atoo."
|Louis Minard||98-39-14||Sitka National Historical Park||
Louis Minard was interviewed on December 8, 1999 by Kristen Griffin and Karen Brewster at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka, Alaska. At the time of the interview, Louis was eighty-four years old, had a broad face, and wore thick smoke-tinted glasses which shaded his eyes. He was about 5' 4" tall and walked assisted by two aluminum crutches, since rheumatoid arthritis and two hip replacement surgeries made it difficult for him to walk. After over twenty years of talking to Sitka National Historical Park visitors about his carving, he was comfortable with public speaking and the interview setting. He spoke thoughtfully and with determination, and his straight-forward answers to questions made it clear that he had thought about and discussed these topics before. He told stories with the emphasis and suspense of a good performer. Louis took a break from cutting a fine-lined design in a gold bracelet he was making to talk to us. In preperation for our interview, he took the magnifier lens off his glasses, turned off the bright, swing-arm lamp over his work area, and pulled off his work apron and hung it over his bench. We also turned off the small electric space heater at his feet to keep its noise off the recording. In this interview, Louis sat in his high-legged chair behind his workbench and talked about how he got involved with silver carving, who his teachers were, the importance of knowing history, and his long association with the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center as an artist, tradition bearer, and educator. He also talks about the Killer Whale Clan House origin story, the importance of the Cultural Center for Native artists, and receiving the Governor's Award for the Arts.
|Mark Jacobs Jr. Part 1 & 2||98-39-05_PT.1_Pt.2||Sitka National Historical Park||
Mark Jacobs Jr. was interviewed on December 21, 1998 by Kristen Griffin and Robi Craig at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska offices in Sitka, Alaska. Mark Jacobs was an experienced interviewee. He was poised, spoke loudly and clearly, and covered topics of great diversity. While speaking about the Sitka National Historical Park, Mr. Jacobs traveled up and down the coast of southeastern Alaska in a manner that would prove confusing to those outside of his culture. But, it made perfect sense when, as Mr. Jacobs was, you are steeped in traditional Tlingit culture and you understand the web it casts over all of history, geography and genealogy in Southeast Alaska. Mr. Jacobs was dressed in a collared plaid shirt tucked into pressed jeans. His gray and white hair was carefully combed back from his face, and he wore glasses and a hearing aid. He was in his 70s and was "as sharp as a tack." In this interview, Mark covers an enormous amount of material about traditional Tlingit culture and Tlingit connections with and use of the area of Sitka National Historical Park, the 1804 Battle between the Kiks.ádi clan and Russian troops at the Fort Site, and the history of Sitka. Kiks.ádi clan leader Al Perkins gave his permission for this non-Kiks.ádi telling of the Kiks.ádi battle story to be included. He provides a lot of detail about Tlingit traditions and connections with and use of the park, including mention of the devil tree in the Park, installation of totem poles, and changes in Indian River. He also discusses the relationship between the park and community of Sitka, the Cottages Community, and land claims conflicts.
|Teri Rofkar||98-39-13||Sitka National Historical Park||
Teri Rofkar was interviewed on May 21, 1999 by Kristen Griffin at a satellite office of the Sitka National Historical Park in Sitka, Alaska. Robi Craig, Tribal Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe, video and audio taped the interview. At the time of this interview, Teri was in her mid-forties and had an enthusiasm for life, her culture, and her work as a Tlingit basket and textile weaver. She is an eloquent and precise speaker and is engaging to listen to. In this interview, Teri covers such topics as the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, traditional Tlingit artwork of basket and textile weaving, and her personal experiences with the Sitka National Historical Park, her culture and her development as an artist. Teri also shares a story about the origins of Tlingit basketry and her impressions of it. Both, the story and Teri's interpretation are beautiful and are perhaps the highlight of the interview.