Page images


The Rev. D. Nyvall contributes the following account of the operations of the society at Yakutat, Unalaklık, and Golovin Bay:

The mission work, now carried on in Alaska by the Swedish Mission Covenant of America, was begun by the Mission Covenant of Sweden. It was at the annual conference in Stockholm in 1886 that the Swedish Covenant decided to begin its mission among the heathen people in Alaska. They then sent out Mr. A. E. Karlson and Mr. Adolph Lydel to begin missions among the Alaskans.

On the 25th of June, 1887, Mr. Karlson arrived at St. Michaels, in northern Alaska, where, owing to the lack of necessary communications, he had to remain a whole year before he could return to the United States to procure the necessary supplies. In the summer of 1888 he returned to San Francisco to procure materials for a house and other necessaries.

Mr. Lydell stopped at Yakutat, south of Mount St. Elias. As soon as he had determined on the location of his station he went to San Francisco to secure supplies and provisions, returning to Yakutat in 1888, accompanied by Karl John Henrikson, whom he by a special providence of God had accidentally met in Oregon. Lydell, however, was taken sick immediately after his return to Yakutat. Having suffered from a severe pulmonary affection, he was not able to continue his missionary work in those cold regions. On the advice of physicians he went back to California, and in his stead Mr. Albin Johnson was sent out in 1889. As soon as Mr. Lydell's health permitted he took up the work of a traveling missionary in the United States, in which work he has since engaged. His work consists in traveling among the mission friends to arouse an interest for the Alaska mission and to solicit means for the same. In this he has succeeded well. The interest manifested in this country for this mission is to a great extent due to the work of Mr. Lydell.

At first the missionaries met only with adversities and obstacles. It was not an easy task in this cold country to get a home to live in. They succeeded, however, in getting some boards, but not sufficient for a house; hence they were compelled to go into the woods, fell the trees, and split them with an ax into boards and shingles. This was hard work; but they succeeded. They arranged in the newly made home first a large room for public gatherings, and even before it was finished they assembled the natives in the kitchen and preached to them by means of an interpreter.

From the United States money was plentifully contributed, with which the missionaries built a children's home in Yakutat. The building was a two-story house, containing room for the missionaries, room for the children, and a large schoolroom, which also served as a church. In this house twenty-four children were educated. In short, the skies of the future appeared almost cloudless.

Suddenly there came an unexpected stroke as a thunderbolt from a clear sky. On the 8th of January, 1892, the home was suddenly burned down, and with it nearly all the property of the mission, together with that of the missionaries, was destroyed.

At about the same time that this calamity took place a good step was taken toward success. A steam saw had been received the fall before. Henrikson had bought this saw with money subscribed for the purpose through the efforts of Mr. Lydell. The saw was not yet in working order, but everything was ready for its erection when the home burned. When the home had burned and all the books and material for the school had been destroyed, the missionaries got time to devote themselves to the erection of the sawmill. This mill was built of logs cut in the woods and split with the ax into boards. As all of their blankets and clothing with which they paid the natives had burned, they resolved to do all the work without any assistance from them. This, however, they were not allowed to do. Said the natives, "Permit us to work; we will ask no pay. We will eat at home, and if you get anything in the future you can repay us.' With their aid the work made rapid progress, so the sawmill was in running order by the time the first boat arrived in the spring.

The result of the work of the sawmill was that the entire village was rebuilt. It was converted from a number of poor shanties to neat and comfortable lumber houses, built along streets, as in our towns. This change took place within a couple of years.

At present there is a congregation at Yakutat of 38 persons who have received the Christian baptism. This congregation is organized in accordance with the same principles of our mission congregations in Sweden and America and hold their services in the same manner. There is even a Young People's Society, organized with the purpose of joining the young in their work for their Master. This society

has proved a great help to the young against the temptations to attend the dances and festivities of the heathen.

Knowing what a powerful factor a Christian school is. it is encouraging to learn that from 60 to 100 children are educated in the mission school. Although the home has not been rebuilt, yet five children are reared and educated at the station. The property at this station is valued at $3,570.

In the spring of 1801 Miss Hannan Sevenson, from Worcester, was sent out to superintend the children's home at Unalaklik. Mr. David Johnson, of Harcourt, Iowa, who has been called as school teacher at Unalaklik, went out in her company.

To the credit of the people it must be said that it has been very quiet and peaceful in this community. Drinking parties and rows are seldom heard of. At Christmas time and during the week of prayer many were touched by the Holy Spirit. We had a full house every evening. The natives sang, prayed, and testified. Even a young Shuman arose and said that he should not like to be left when the Lord would come.

At the mission station six boys and three girls have been supported. all obedient, and live for God.

They are

In the spring of 1892, Mr. August Anderson, in company with one of the boys at the school, made a missionary tour along the western coast. They then came to Golovin Bay, where Anderson found many Eskimos in poverty and darkness. He asked the natives if they wished to have a school in which their children could learn about God. They all answered "Yes."

Mr. Anderson returned home to Unalaklik and told his brethren what he had heard and seen. It was in the summer of this year that Mr. Karlson started on his tour through the United States and Sweden. Having reached the States, Mr. Karlson began to collect money for the mission at Golovin Bay, receiving at his first meeting, which was held in San Francisco, a collection of $70 as a beginning. Arriving at Rockford, Ill., when the Covenant's annual meeting was in session, he put forth his cause orally as well as in a written report. This exerted such an influence on the whole meeting that immediately, at the same session, about $1,500 was raised for the Alaska mission among the delegates. Subscriptions continued at the general meetings until the sum was increased to $3,000. We all, who were present, remember what a missionary spirit prevailed at this blessed meeting.

The following summer, when Karlson returned to Alaska, he had in his company Mr. N. O, Hultberg and Miss Malvina Johnson. Golovin Bay was assigned to Brother Hultberg as his mission field, and he went there directly from St. Michaels on the boat which brought up Mr. Karlson. There he met his coworker, Mr. August Anderson. They now first had an earnest prayer meeting, after which they took up their work with zeal. They got along so well in building their house that they could assemble the people during the very same fall. They kept up their meetings during the winter.

The following spring they had the joy of baptizing several natives. The following fall Brother Hultberg left Golovin Bay to assist in the work at Unalaklik, and so Mr. Anderson was left alone at Golovin Bay. In the spring Mr. Hultberg made his way down to St. Michaels to meet his betrothed. Their wedding took place at Unalaklik. The fourth day after their marriage the newly wedded couple went to Golovin Bay, where they since have labored.

We have now in that place a mission house, dwelling house, and a schoolhouse, and, better than all, a congregation of Christians numbering 35 members. Forty children attend the school, and 4 are supported at the Children's Home. The mission property at this station is valued at $2,525. This sum does not include the value of the 100 acres of land, which, according to the laws of the United States, belong to the station.

The members of the congregation at Unalaklik number 40. The school children number between 60 and 70. Four children are supported at the Children's Home. The property is valued at $4,490.


In the Terrritory of Alaska this church has work among the whites at Juneau and Douglas and Sitka, and among the Indians of the Yukon region and the Eskimo of arctic Alaska, all under the supervision of Bishop P. T. Rowe. The following extract is taken from the annual report of the board of managers of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church: The Rev. Mr. Prevost, whose station at Fort Adams is among the Indians, the bishop temporarily removed to Circle City, as it was the more important for the moment and a convenient center. In June last the Rev. Mr. Chapman, who, with

his faithful wife and Miss Sabine, is stationed at Amvik, 600 miles from the mouth of the Yukon, wrote home that the mission school at that place, though unable to care for more than two or three boarding pupils, had a most prosperous year. In November, and again in December, Mr. Chapman visited the villages upon the Chageluk Slough, to the eastward from Anvik. He hopes to establish a school there with a native teacher. In April Mr. Chapman made a visit up the Kuskokwim River as far as Vinisahle."

From Point Hope Dr. Driggs, under date of June 7, reports that on his return to duty from a visit to the States he received a joyful and hearty welcome from the natives on his arrival at Point Hope. The Doctor has erected a new home for himself at this place, in the building of which natives and a few white men assisted. The interest in the Sunday services has been very marked, the average attendance being 120 and 125. A widespread epidemic of influenza made its appearance during the summer. The outlook here is very encouraging, and Dr. Driggs says: “I doubt if there is a single city or village in the United States where the ratio to the population of those who attend worship on Sundays has been as large the past winter as it has been here at Point Hope."

The statistics last reported are as follows: Stations, Anvik (10 communicants); Circle City, Indian Mission: Fort Adams (3 communicants); Nowikowkat, Fort Yukon (5 communicants); Point Hope. Mr. Prevost reports large numbers of baptized Indians within his district. Number of missionaries, 8.


On the 1st of October, 1857, Mr. William Duncan, of England, arrived at Fort Simpson, British Columbia, to open a mission among the Tsimpsheeans. He found by actual count that they numbered 2,300. They were barbarians of the lowest type, and their history little less than a chapter of crime and misery.

On the 28th of June, 1858, he had so far acquired a knowledge of the language that he was able to open his first school in the house of a chief, with an attendance of 26 children and 15 adults.

In April, 1860, he made preaching tours to the various villages situated on the rivers which empty into the ocean near Fort Simpson,

Having secured a few followers among the natives, he proposed to them that they remove from the native village, where they were more or less under the influence of their heathen neighbors, and establish a new village that should be under strict regulations. The removal was accomplished on the 27th of May, 1860, the people arriving at their new location, 16 miles south of Fort Simpson, the next day at 2 o'clock. There were 50 men, women, and children, that composed this first colony. On the 6th of June 290 additional natives joined them. Every one desiring to settle in the new village was required to subscribe to the following agreement:

1. To give up sorcery.

2. To cease calling in sorcerers when sick.

3. To cease gambling.

4. To cease giving away their property for display.

5. To cease painting their faces.

6. To cease drinking intoxicating liquors.

7. To observe the Sabbath.

8. To attend religious instruction.

9. To send their children to school.

10. To be cleanly.

11. To be industrious.

12. To be peaceful.

13. To be liberal and honest in trade.

14. To build neat houses.

15. To pay the village tax.

The new village, notwithstanding the above stringent regulations, grew very rapidly until it had a population of 1,000 natives. They had erected for themselves good, comfortable frame houses; had a steam sawmill, a salmon-canning establishment, and a village store owned largely by native shareholders. A number of them had learned the carpentry trade, others furniture making, and still others boat building and boot and shoe making and the various industries in villages.

Their prosperity continued until about 1880, when the news of the remarkable success of the mission had circulated wherever the English language was known.

This had attracted a great deal of attention to the mission, so much so that the Church of England, whose missionary society had originally sent Mr. Duncan to the field, thought that the importance of the mission demanded a bishop and one was selected, ordained, and sent. The coming of the bishop to the station immediately started rivalries. If the bishop was to be at the head of the mission, Mr. Duncan, who had given his life to the work and had created the mission, would have to take a second place, which he could not very well afford to do. On the other hand, the bishop could not afford to allow Mr. Duncan to rule and he himself take a second place.

In the meantime the attention of the Canadian Pacific Railway authorities had been attracted to the increasing importance of Northern British Columbia and Alaska, and they had sent surveyors for a preliminary survey, with regard to running a mail road to the coast at that point. When the people found that the railroad surveyors were driving stakes over the lands that they and their fathers had occupied for generations, they protested. Finding that their protests were of no avail, they sent a committee to Ottawa to lay their grievances before the Canadian Parliament, Securing no redress there, the committee continued their journey to London, but were prevented from having a personal interview with the Queen, and returned home very much discouraged. Upon agitating the question of their personal rights, they found that they had no right whatever to the land that they had always supposed to be their own, and that there was no future for their children, under the regulations provided by the Parliament of British Columbia. This, in connection with the land difficulties and the difficulties of the church combined, made them very much dissatisfied; and finally, in the winter of 1886-87, they sent their leader, Mr. Duncan, to Washington, to confer with the President, Secretary of the Interior, and leading officials of our Government, the result of which was that in the spring of 1887 they concluded to leave British Columbia and move in a body to the contiguous Territory of Alaska, in the United States. They supposed, of course, that they would be allowed to take down the houses which they owned, and transport their windows, doors, lumber, etc., over to their new home, which was about 60 miles north of the old place. They were, however, disappointed in this, as an official of the British Columbia Government forbade their taking anything. And this people, that had slowly come up from barbarians to civilization, were compelled to go out empty-handed, leaving behind them all the property which they had accumulated during those nearly thirty years that they had been emerging from barbarism to civilization.

On the 7th of August, Mr. Duncan returned from Washington and landed at Port Chester, on Annette Island, the place that had been selected for their new home. It was a great gala day for the people. A United States flag, donated to them by the ladies of Philadelphia, in Independence Hall, was flung to the breeze with cheers and firing of guns. Addresses were made by Mr. Duncan and several tourists who were with him on the steamer. A prayer for God's blessing followed, and the public exercises were closed by the people singing with great ardor the doxology, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

The timber was cleared off a number of acres for a village, which was duly surveyed and plotted and allotted to the inhabitants. A steam sawmill and a large store building were erected. Friends in Brooklyn, New York, and other cities sent several thousand dollars for public improvements. Since then a large schoolhouse, church, and salmon cannery have been erected.

Congress, in section 15 of the act entitled "An act to repeal timber-culture laws, and for other purposes," approved March 3, 1891 (26 Stats., 1095), has reserved Annette Island for the colony. Section 15 of the above-mentioned act reads as follows:

"Until otherwise provided by law, the body of lands known as Annette Island, situated in the Alexander Archipelago, in southeastern Alaska, on the north side of Dixon's entrance, be, and the same is hereby, set apart as a reservation for the use of the Metlakahtla Indians and these people known as Metlakahtlans who have recently emigrated from British Columbia to Alaska and such other Alaskan natives as may join them, to be held and used by them in common, under such rules and regulations and subject to such restrictions as may [be] prescribed from time to time by the Secretary of the Interior."

In British Columbia they have formed a local government, which they transferred with themselves to their settlement on Annette Island. This local government is officially known by them as "The Town and Associated Community of Metlakahtla." An annual election is held by the members of the "community." This council makes the laws, and is the governing power of the people. Every person desiring to unite with the community is required to make application to the council" for membership. If the request is granted, the new member sub

scribes to the following rules, which have superseded those in force when the colony was organized:

We, the people of Metlakahtla, Alaska, in order to secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of a Christian home, do severally subscribe to the following rules for the regulation of our conduct and town affairs:

1. To reverence the Sabbath and to refrain from all unnecessary secular work on that day; to attend divine worship; to take the Bible for our rule of faith; to regard all true Christians as our brethren, and to be truthful, honest, and industrious.

2. To be faithful and loyal to the Government and laws of the United States. 3. To render our votes when called upon for the election of the town council, and to promptly obey the by-laws and orders imposed by the said council.

4. To attend to the education of our children and keep them at school as regularly as possible.

5. To totally abstain from all intoxicants and gambling, and never attend heathen festivities or countenance heathen customs in surrounding villages.

6. To strictly carry out all sanitary regulations necessary for the health of the town.

7. To identify ourselves with the progress of the settlement, and to utilize the land we hold.

8. Never to alienate, give away, or sell our land or building lots or any portion thereof to any person or persons who have not subscribed to these rules.

(Signed) Date,



Already before migrating to Annette Island Mr. Duncan had introduced these elements of civilization. Many of his tribe were individual owners of the village lots occupied by their residences and vegetable gardens. Immediately after removing to Annette Island the same plan of individual ownership was resorted to in the form indicated by the following certificate of ownership:

[blocks in formation]

This certifies that



has this day, in pursuance of the rules and regulations of the Town and Associated Community of Metlakahtla, Alaska, entered upon and occupied that certain tract or parcel of land on Annette Island, in the district of Alaska, U. S. A., more particularly described as follows, viz: and is now in the actual possession thereof.

That, so far as this city and associated community can confer such a privilege, he has, and heirs shall have, the prior and exclusive right of proving up claim thereto, and of obtaining title from the United States Government, and this shall be the evidence thereof, except it be before us canceled upon our register for abandonment or conduct unbecoming an American citizen. Done by our order, under our seal, the day and year first above written, by the chairman and secretary of our native council.



Chairman of the Native Council.


Secretary of the Native Council.

The island is about 40 miles long by 3 wide. The colony on Annette Island have cleared off the timber from their village site, erected from 150 to 200 good frame residences, established a cooperative store, salmon cannery, and steam sawmill, and built a large church; but, so far as known to this office, nothing has been actually done in mining, although it is known that projects in this direction have been under consideration by them. All the industries are carried on by the native people themselves, under the leadership of Mr. William Duncan.


The progress has been satisfactory and an advance has been made during the year.

While no purchases have been made in Siberia, 466 deer have been added to the herds by birth, making a total on June 30, 1897, of 1,466. A new station has been established about 60 miles north of St. Michael, Norton Sound. This location is on the north shore of Unalaklik River, about 10 miles above its mouth, and combines a central position, with dry and abundant pasturage, good fishing, timber

« PreviousContinue »