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Nettie Jones Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Nettie Jones Papers

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Nettie Jones Collection, 1929-2014 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Heather Haven, UAS Intern

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Collection Overview

Title: Nettie Jones Collection, 1929-2014Add to your cart.

ID: MS/049

Primary Creator: Ellison, Nathalia Bertie “Nettie” Jones (1897-1979)

Other Creators: Paul, William Lewis (1885-1977)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Subjects: Tlingit Indians--History., Tsimshian Indians--History.

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of papers and records associated with the life of Nettie Jones (1897*-1979) who was known in the community of Ketchikan as a pioneer for equal education rights for her Alaska Native daughter.  This collections highlights an early case of desegregation for Alaska Natives in the school system. The collection was compiled by one of Nettie’s granddaughters, Joanna K. Hendricks, and contains various photocopies of articles, event program in memorial of Mrs. Jones, newspaper clippings, and the copies of the actual court preceding’s from the case of her daughter Irene against the Ketchikan Alaska school board.

In September of 1928 Nettie’s daughter Irene was told by the Main School principal that she had to leave and not return to school. She was told to enroll in the Indian school along with a few other students. The reason given by the Ketchikan school board representatives was because of overcrowding. This notion was later disproved by Jones’ attorney William Paul. After Paul and Nettie Jones took the matter to the school board and were turned down they contacted William Paul, who was living and working as an attorney in Ketchikan at the time. William Paul is well known in Alaska for being both the first Alaska Native attorney and legislator. Paul took the case to Federal court in 1929 and on November 29, 1929 Judge Justin Harding ruled in favor of Ms. Irene Jones and stated that the school had to allow her admission. The ruling was made on the grounds there was not an overcrowding issue at the Ketchikan Main School and that the BIA school was not fully accredited so did not provide the same level of education for Ms. Jones.

There were three schools in Ketchikan in the late 1920’s White Cliff, Main School and the BIA school. Irene was a bright girl and Paul argued the inadequacy of the BIA schools in showing Ms. Jones was admitted to a higher grade because of her performance level in their system. Nettie knew her daughter had been wrongfully treated by the school district and fought for not only her daughter’s right but the right of many other Native children as well.

This collection highlights one of the earlier struggles in Alaska fighting for equal rights for Alaska Natives.  The Molly Hootch case from the 1970’s is synonymous with equal educational rights in the state. This collection nicely compliments the State’s and Alaska Native history as being on the forefront in what has been at least a century long struggle for equal rights. The Nettie Jones collection is of interest for students of Alaska Native studies and Alaska Native law who want to see early cases of the struggle for Native rights. It gives a glimpse into the unjust treatment of the traditional occupants of the land now known as Alaska.

This manuscript collection is on file and open to the public through the policies of Sealaska Heritage Institute.

* Sources vary on Nettie’s date of birth, ranging from 1894-1899.

Biographical Note

Nathalia Bertie “Nettie” Jones Ellison (1897*-1979) was a Tsimshian Indian of the Eagle clan and born at Metlakatla, Alaska. She was the youngest of three children and the only daughter of Cornelius Carrasco of Chile and Maggie Bolton of Metlakatla, B.C. Canada. Nettie spent time growing up in the village of Wrangell, Alaska but resided in Ketchikan throughout her adult life.

Nettie married Paul Young Jones a Haida in Ketchikan in 1917. He was the son of George Frank Jones of Canada and Fanny Jones of Angoon. He belonged to the Killer whale clan. Paul was born in Kasaan in 1892. He worked as a laborer at a boat shop. They had seven children together; five daughters Pauline, Irene, Geraldine Ernestine “Babe” and Maxine and two sons Frank and Harold. Paul Jones died in 1937.

Nettie remarried a Thomas Ellison sometime after the 1942 BIA census when Nettie recorded head of household status. Her brother Joe Carrasco was recorded as living in her home in various censuses. Nettie resided on East Street in Ketchikan. This area of town was known for being the Indian side of town. Throughout her residency in Ketchikan Nettie was an active member of Alaska Native Sisterhood. Nettie Ellison passed away December 14th 1979. She is buried in Bayview Cemetery at Ketchikan.

* Sources vary on Nettie’s date of birth, ranging from 1894-1899.

Subject/Index Terms

Tlingit Indians--History.
Tsimshian Indians--History.

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Acquisition Method: The material in the collection was donated to SHI on 3/19/2014 by, Joanna K. Hendricks the granddaughter of Nettie Jones.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Nettie Jones Papers],

Box 1: Nettie Jones PapersAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: PapersAdd to your cart.

Item 1: Nettie Jones Story contents list. Provided by donor and Jones’ granddaughter Joanna K. Hendricks.

Item 2: Alaska Native Brotherhood/Alaska Native Sisterhood Civil Rights Day Celebration Program honoring Nettie Jones.

Item 3: Photocopy of the script of a short skit performed by Winona Wallace and cast that was performed at the program (Folder 1, Item 1).

Folder 2: PapersAdd to your cart.

Item 1: Copy of story titled “Ketchikan Schools Partially Desegregated in 1929: Local Native family went to court for right of daughter to attend Main School” written by Dave Kiffer, freelance writer for online SitNews; Stories in the News. Story ran online 2/06/14 at www.sitnews.us.

Item 2: Photocopy of article from the Ketchikan Daily News about a Johnson O’Mally elementary school program where local Ketchikan 2nd grade classes held a potlatch commemorating their learning of traditional Tlingit, Tsimshian and Haida Native cultures. The potlatch was held in Saxman at the tribal house.

Item 3: Photocopy of Ketchikan Daily News article in remembrance of Nettie Jones Ellison and her contribution to desegregating schools in Ketchikan in the late 1920’s. Article ran in the KDN education section Tuesday January 8th 1980 and was written by staff member Nikki Murray Jones.

Item 4: Ketchikan Daily News Tuesday January 8th 1980 actual newspaper clipping of (Folder 2, Item 3).

Item 5: Photocopied article from the Southeastern Log in the February 1980 issue written by Nikki Murray Jones. Article is in memory of Nettie Jones’ life and her contribution to integrated Native students into all schools in Ketchikan in the late 1920’s.

Folder 3: PapersAdd to your cart.

Item 1: State of Alaska Legislative letter in memoriam of Nettie Jones Ellison and her

work for the betterment of Alaskan Native peoples. Signed by Speaker of the House Gardiner and President of the Senate Tillion May 30th 1980.

Item 2: Copy of a letter from Kaye King, President of Board of Education from the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, written to granddaughter of Nettie Jones explaining newly passed resolution No. 172 honoring her grandmother and Mr. Paul Sr.’s accomplishments. Letter dated December 28th 1979. Resolution passed December 27th 1979.

Folder 4: US District Court for the Territory of Alaska Division Number One at Ketchikan Irene Jones, Plaintiff, VS. school board of the incorporated town of Ketchikan, Alaska, Defendants, Case Number 1323 KA September 10th 1929 legal documents.Add to your cart.

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