Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Stories by Bert Adams, Sr.

Bert Adams, Sr., who writes under the pen names of Kadashan and Naats'keek (his Tlingit names), provided this project with the following five samples of his work.


Raven and the Ark

The story is told about how Raven saw this huge canoe floating between Dry Bay and the Akwe River. It resembled a fish trap because it had all those deep water fish that was hard to catch in the ocean, like halibut and cod; also every bird that one could think of was in it including every kind of food one needed.

Raven carved a cane that was similar to the tentacles of an octopus, and he used it to pull in the canoe -- the vessel also had a house attached to it. The house was called Shaka Hít (Canoe Prow House of the Lukaaxádi) because "it had everything in it." When he pulled the ark ashore, the birds were released and that is why we have birds in the world today. As he pulled the ark from the ocean he left his foot prints in the sand hills along the Akwe River and that is where Gus'eix is. This goes along with the story that the Lukaaxádi people were the earliest people in the Dry Bay area and initially built their house in Gus'eix. When the Luk'nax.ádi people came from southeast they eventually took over Gus'eix and probably changed the name to Digginna hit, Far Out House.

Raven in the Whale

After Raven created the world people said, "What are we going to eat?"

So he went out to sea looking for food. Soon he saw a big whale. As soon as it blew out of its air hole, Raven flew right into the hole; this killed the whale. Raven stayed inside, however, he stuck his head out of the blow hole, but he couldn't get all the way out.

Raven made a wish. "I wish this whole whale would go to a sandy beach, but not a rocky place."

Raven's wish came true and the whale drifted ashore at a nice, calm, sandy beach. This was in Dry Bay.

The whole tribe took lots of meat and fat from the dead whale. After they took their share of the meat and fat, they prepared it for winter supply. After they took everything out, an old man came to see if he could get some meat from the whale.

Raven stuck his head out of the ribs. "I wish somebody could cut a hole so I could get out of the whale -- so I can fly out."

And the old man went to the people. He surprised the people with what he heard. When all the whale was cut up, Raven was able to free himself.

Everything was cooked, enough for 5 or 10 years. Raven goes sneaking around the house. Somebody gives him fat and fish as well as dried meat.

He asked the people, "Did you hear anything inside?"


"What did you hear?" (The people repeated the Tlingit phrase)
Raven put down the dish of whale meat given him. "This happened before. I wouldn't eat that. My father and my grandfather and my uncles eat a whale like that and die." He began to cry, "I, i, i, i, i!" He told the people, "The whale meat is dangerous."

He told the people if they all went to the woods, they'd live; if they wanted to eat the whale meat they'd all die.

After everyone goes he took the meat into the wood to hide it. He wanted all the whale meat himself. The people caught him hiding it.

They made fun of him. They torched him. Raven was white before but they now smoke him. They torch it, poor Raven, now he is black from the smoke.

Some of Raven's Creations Near Dry Bay

Raven has a landing place called "canoe road'" at Yakataga. The waves do not break here because Raven assured his timid wife that they would not do so to frighten her. Once when he was embarking, he quarreled with his wife, she threw his adz on the beach, thus forming Cape Yakataga. In return, he threw her sewing (or berry) basket overboard, where it is now a rocky basin filled with clams and sea urchins. Scratches on the rocks were caused by Raven dragging plants, or a fish rack, down to the canoe.

Similar names and explanations are given for features near Dry Bay and Lituya Bay. There is a place up the Alsek River (near Gateway Knob) from which pebbles fall, but because Raven assured his wife they would fall outside the canoe they never struck his canoe unless someone is going to die.

An island near the head of Dry Bay is the whale in which Raven floated ashore, a rock on the island is its fin. The sandy flats here were created in accordance with Raven's wish that the whale drift ashore on a good beach.

It was in Dry Bay that Raven opened the box of daylight, frightening away the rocks and mountains. Here also, he pulled ashore the "Ark or box filled with animals and birds, and his footsteps are still visible on the west of the bay. Raven also lured ashore the first king salmon in Dry Bay. The mountain down which Raven was thrown in a box, is above the Akwe River. Near the second glacier ascending the Alsek, Raven threw away his wife's basket and a big king salmon.

The cave, or house of stone, in which Raven lived is southeast of Lituya Bay; it is the mountain he slashed when angry at Echo.

In this area, Raven obtained the first plants and trees from the Sea Otters. There is also another of his landing places near Cape Fairweather or Lituya Bay. It is in this area where we can see how the surface of the land was shaped in primordial time.

Boulder House

Johnson Slough enters the Situk River from the east and is called Guniyaash Heen. About one and a half miles above the old landing, at the end of the railway, and on the westerns side of the stream, was once a L'uknax.a'di house called Boulder House; it was on top of a sand bluff. This was built by Naats'keek, the great grand-uncle of Minnie Johnson. It was built here in the early 1800s, and was moved from Dry Bay, where there was also a Boulder House. It was later moved to the Situk River and then rebuilt in the old village in Yakutat by Charlie White, L'uknáx.adi.

Frog House

The village of Gus'eix on the Akwe River was the largest L'uknax.a'di settlement in the Dry Bay area. Gus'eix is about thirteen miles from Dry Bay toward Yakutat and is situated about half way up the Akwe River. Gus'eix is an Athabascan word, and it was these interior people who first came to the Dry Bay area by way of the Alsek River. They were Raven, known as the L'ukwaax.a'di (Sockeye) people. They never had any permanence in the area and came to fish for salmon and hunt seal during the summer months. Eventually the L'uknax.a'di (Coho) people from the southeast settled in the Dry Bay area and began to make permanent settlements. One of these settlements was Gus'eix. Several houses were built in Gus'eix and one of the largest was the Frog House.

It is said that the original owner of Frog House was Qalgek and later L'uknax.a'di brothers Jisneey and Déexwudu.oo became owners, however the house was built by Staagwáan.

When the L'uknax.a'dis began construction in early spring they were preparing the foundation for a new house. While digging one of the the four holes for the corner posts a large frozen frog was uncovered. It was the largest frog anyone had ever seen. Jisneey picked it up and put it on a log. They were going to put it back into another hole. Before they had a chance to rebury it the frog, however, thawed out and came alive.

When the house was completed it was the largest house in the Dry Bay area. They named it Frog House and the four corner posts had the frog emblem carved on each of them.

Déexwudu.oo, who was killed in a battle against the Teikwiedi's, was the last chief of Gus'eix. The village of Gus'eix was eventually abandoned when most of the L'uknax.a'di men were killed by a giant wave in Lituya Bay. Some of these people moved to Dry Bay where the Frog House was rebuilt by Dry Bay Chief George, the younger brother of Jisneey and Déexwudu.oo. Others moved to Hoonah and Sitka. Staagwáan's namesake, Staagwáan, also rebuilt the Frog House in Sitka.