Winner of an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation
Winner of the 2009 Alaska Library Association’s Alaskana of the Year Award
The Battles of Sitka were seminal events in the history of the Tlingit people, in the multicultural history of Alaska, and, ultimately, in the history of America. The Tlingits saw themselves as victors even as they formally ceded to the Russians the site of their village and fort, now knows as Sitka. This book covers the period from the first arrival of European and American fur traders in Tlingit territory to the establishment of a permanent Russian presence in the Pacific Northwest. It presents transcriptions and English translations of Tlingit oral traditions recorded almost fifty years ago and translations of newly available Russian historical documents. Although independent in origin and transmission, these accounts support one another to a remarkable degree on the main historical point.
The Tlingit-Russian conflict is usually presented as a confrontation between "whites" with superior arms, and brave but outnumbered and poorly armed Natives. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Tlingits saw themselves as victors even as they formally ceded to the Russians the site of their village and fort, now known as Sitka. Setting aside ancient rules of story ownership, a new generation of Tlingit clan leaders has decided to publish the stories told by their ancestors so that the Tlingit point of view would be known and succeeding generations would not forget their people's history.
Including Russian historical documents, travelers' accounts of information interactions between the formerly warring parties after the battles, and Dr. W. Schuhmacher's work on the role played by British and American skippers, this book inquires into and provides some answers to the fundamental question, Who owns history?
Photographs of objects now in Russian and American museums - from the favorite battle hammer of Tlingit war chief Katlian to the metal ceremonial hat Baranov commissioned for the peace ceremony - enrich the book, along with portraits of key historical figures and eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century charts of Tlingit territory. Also included is the journal of Dmitrii Tarkhanov, a gazetteer, a glossary, Tlingit and Russian name lists, and an index.
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Nora Marks Dauenhauer , whose first language is Tlingit, is affiliate professor of English and Richard L. Dauenhauer is President's Professor of Alaska Native Languages, both at the University of Alaska Southeast. The late Lydia T. Black was professor emerita of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.Review:
"I highly recommend this book as well as the earlier volumes in the 'Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature' series. It represents thorough, punctilious scholarship that reflects both multicultural and multidisciplinary perspectives. Even readers who do not study Northwest Coast traditions should examine it as a model for ethnohistorical presentation."―Journal of Folklore Research
"A quarter-century in the making, it is well worth the wait . . . . Some of the Russian documents appear in translation and print for the first time, as do most of the welcome Tlingit voices, which finally present their point of view to readers."―Alaska History
"The monograph is well designed, illustrated and printed by the University of Washington Press. I highly recommend it both for students of Alaska studies and those interested in the Russian-Tlingit relations of the Russian-American period in Alaska."―Juneau Empire
"It needs to be stressed that the editors totally succeeded in finding their own way of dealing with this heavily studied topic . . . . they have created an excellent reader that will serve as a resource not only for those who are interested in Tlingit history and Russian America but also for instructors and students who may want to explore Russian imperial, Pacific Northwest, American West, and Native American history."―H-Net
"I think that this is the type of work that Franz Boas, the founder of American anthropology, dreamed of seeing one day. Not only is this book a bi-cultural interpretation of two historical events, it is also filled with insights, explanations, and information that the rest of us, as anthropologists and historians, must stand back and admire."―Arctic
"A richly detailed book comprised of Tlingit oral narratives, Russian manuscripts and other historic documents that took more than 20 years to complete."―Juneau Empire
"The color plates and figures are beautiful and the coverage is comprehensive, making this a model record of motivations, attitudes, and perceptions as well as events."―Book News
"Presents documents setting out works of Tlingit oral history in parallel with Russian and other documents referring to the same events, the two 'battles' of Sitka that took place in 1802 and 1804 . . . a most impressive work of scholarship."―Polar Record
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Book Description University of Washington Press, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0295986018
Book Description University of Washington Press, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. Bilingual. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Bookseller Inventory # 0295986018