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Johnny Marks Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Johnny Marks Papers

Johnny Marks Papers

Johnny Marks Papers

Johnny Marks Papers - Transcriptions.

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Johnny Marks Papers, 1990-2007 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Johnny Marks Papers, 1990-2007Add to your cart.

ID: MS/012

Primary Creator: Marks, Johnny (1943-2009)

Extent: 4.0 Boxes

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains the working papers of Johnny Marks (1943-2008) (K'óox and Kooteix'téek). Marks’ papers consist of notebooks and loose papers writings and personal notes on Tlingit culture, language, songs, clan stories, transcriptions from cassette tapes, research papers, and his general feelings about life. These writings are penned longhand a few hundred office notebooks between 1990 and 2008. They reflect the writings of a Tlingit man deeply involved in the cultural preservation of Tlingit ways.

Researchers should note that Marks’ papers were written primarily to himself, and are his working papers, and the topic of these writings within each notebook or loose batch of papers is rarely identified. In some cases Marks’ notes were written in reflection of select books he reviewed, where he penned corrections in his notebooks that he found the published volume omitted or did not know. The collection also contains transcriptions of a number of Tlingit and English language recordings, though the title to each recording is generally not identified.

Biographical Note

Johnny Marks was born May 11, 1943, in Juneau, to Willie and Emma Marks. He was raised by Willie's brother Jim and Jenny Marks, who were childless. As an adult, he was formally adopted by them. His Tlingit names were K'óox and Kooteix'téek. He was born into the Raven moiety, Lukaax.ádi (Sockeye) clan, and Gheesán House. His mother's people are from the Alsek River Canoe Prow House at Dry Bay. His father's people are the Eagle moiety Chookaneidi of the Brown Bear House and Brown Bear Nest House of Hoonah. He was trained from his youth to know the great depths of Tlingit knowledge, history, language and culture.

He graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1962, and joined the U.S. Army shortly thereafter, serving in Germany in the early 1960s. He worked as a commercial fisherman on the North Pass and Evolution. He was a member of Juneau ANB Camp 2.

He grew up speaking Tlingit in the environment of traditional elders. He was widely recognized and respected by Native and non-Native people alike for his knowledge of the language, and for his remarkable recall of personal names and songs. He worked in the early 1970s with Len Sevdy in the Juneau School District Indian Studies Program. Although not as widely known for his artwork as his brothers, he was an outstanding creator of Tlingit designs.

He later worked with many linguists including Jeff Leer of UAF, Seth Cable of University of Massachusetts, and Keri Edwards of Juneau to research and document Tlingit language. He volunteered for many years as language and cultural resource at Sealaska Heritage Institute. One of his recent activities was translating Macbeth into Tlingit and working with local actors on the Tlingit language production staged in Juneau and in Washington, D.C.

Marks passed away on September 28, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska.


Juneau Empire obituary, October 8, 2009

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Source: Johnny Marks

Acquisition Method: The material in the collection was transferred to SHI archives by Johnny Marks in various batches between 2005 and 2009. Accession number: 2008.008. An additional batch of Johnny Marks' papers were donated to SHI by Keri E. Eggleston in 2013 and added to this collection (comprising Box 4).

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Johnny Marks Papers],
[Box 2: Johnny Marks Papers],
[Box 3: Johnny Marks Papers],
[Box 4: Johnny Marks Papers - Transcriptions.],

Box 4: Johnny Marks Papers - Transcriptions.Add to your cart.
This box concerns translation and transcription papers generated by Marks while working with linguist Keri Edwards Eggleston. Includes transcriptions of Tlingit language immersion workshops in Sitka and at Bartlett Cove, 2003-04.

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