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Henry Denny Jr. Recordings Collection

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Recordings on CD. [copies of materials in Box 2]

Recordings on Cassette. [copies of materials in Box 1]

Recordings on Open Reel.

Recordings on Open Reel.

Recordings on Open Reel.

Recordings on Open Reel.

Transcription of migrated recordings, entitled “Verbatim Transcriptions of the Henry Denny Jr. Collection; Oral History and Stories,” by Bruce E. Kelley and Gregory D. Kelley. (two copies)



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Henry Denny Jr. Recordings Collection, 1952-1979 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Henry Denny Jr. Recordings Collection, 1952-1979Add to your cart.

ID: MC/011

Primary Creator: Denny, Henry, Jr. (1902-1979)

Other Creators: Denny, Bessie Johnson (1870-1973)

Extent: 6.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 01/29/2010

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

Languages: Tlingit, English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of 79 audio recordings primarily concerning Tlingit Indian, Henry Denny Jr. (1903-1979), also known as Gashéiksh IV (Chief Kashakes IV), and his mother Bessie Johnson Denny (1870-1973) dating to circa 1952-1979. These recordings primarily concern the history of the Tlingit people of Saxman and Cape Fox Village, Alaska, as well as general southern Tlingit history and culture. The topics discussed on these recordings are broad, ranging from clan histories, stories about war and politics, knowledge on subsistence lifestyles, Tlingit spiritualism, and other. The recordings were made primarily by Henry Denny Jr., who spoke into a recording devise, giving oral narratives, history, and other information. On some occasions in the recordings Bessie Denny spoke in Tlingit and Henry Denny Jr. then translated. Overall, these recordings provide a wealth of information on the Cape Fox/Saxman people and the Tlingit in general. Both Henry and Bessie were well trained in clan history, storytelling, and fluent speakers of the Tlingit language.

The collection focuses on the audio recordings on CD housed in Box 1 of the collection, though additional CDs are found in the remaining boxes (some have been migrated from reel to CD). Box 2 contains the original 29 cassette tapes which consist of the recordings that comprise those in Box 1, previously migrated from reel to cassette and then to CD. The cassette tapes in Box 2 correspond with items in Box 1, as noted in the inventory.

The last four boxes in the collection, Boxes 3-6, contain 38 open reel recordings. Subjects of recordings listed in the inventory were taken directly from a preliminary inventory given by the donor, and some recordings have unknown subjects or were unlabeled. Recordings without boxes have been placed in plastic sleeves for preservation purposes. Plans to have the content migrated from reel to CD format are forthcoming. In 2011 six reels from these boxes were migrated to CD, which enhanced description of these six items, which are detailed in the inventory. Some recordings in these boxes seem to be unconnected to Tlingit culture, and contain Christian sermons, though some appear to be recorded sermons at Saxman. In July 2014 a transcription of the migrated recordings was completed by Bruce Kelley and Gregory Kelley, the collection donor and grandson and great grandson of Henry Denny Jr. This transcription is a companion to the collection to assist researchers.

Researcher Note: Those also interested in Cape Fox Village history and the Denny family should also see SHI MC 8: The Cape Fox Recordings Collection.

Biographical Note

Henry Denny Jr. (1902-1979) was Tlingit Indian leader, orator, Naa Sháade Háni (clan leader) for the Neix.ádi Clan, Ch’áak’ Koowú Hít (Eagle Fan-Tail House), and recipient of the Saanyá Kwáan Neix.ádi Clan title of Gashéiksh (often known in English as Chief Kashakes) being Gashéiksh IV. Denny was born January 27, 1902 in T’éesh Kwáan Xagu (known in English as Saxman, Alaska) to Henry Denny Sr. (1860-1947) and Bessie Johnson Denny (1870-1973). Denny Jr. was of the Eagle Moiety, the Neix.ádi Clan, and of the Ch’áak’ Koowú Hít (Eagle Fan-Tail House). His Tlingit names were Gitxwán and Asdaaxaay.

Denny was selected to be Gashéiksh IV in on Dec. 25, 1917. At a T’éesh Kwáan Xagu ceremony held from Dec. 22-25, 1917 by John McKay (1835-1931) of the Neix.ádi Clan, Charles T. Johnson (1863-1948) was named Gashéiksh III, and Henry Denny Jr.—then only 14 years old at the time—was named Gashéiksh IV. The hereditary title was passed from the then late George Johnson, Gashéiksh II, who died circa 1910 during a flu epidemic. From 1917 on Denny was trained to be a leader. In 1927 Charles T. Johnson reportedly held a formal ceremony in T’éesh Kwáan Xagu to announce the passing of the title of Gashéiksh from himself to Henry Denny Jr. Although Denny was involved as caretaker of the physical structure of the Ch’áak’ Koowú Hít after 1927, with the advent of capitalism and private property, in 1952 Denny took legal possession/title of the Ch’áak’ Koowú Hít, where he lived until his death in 1979.   

Prior to his death he ensured the house would be left to his daughter Dorothy M. Utterberg. (In 1994 the Ch’áak’ Koowú Hít [known as the Chief Kashakes House] was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by Dorothy Utterberg and Bruce Kelley). In 1978 Denny designated Joseph Denny Sr. (1904-1984) to be Gashéiksh V, and reportedly, in 1984 Reynold “Mickey” Denny (1913-1991) was named Gashéiksh VI.

During Henry Denny Jr.’s life he married Mae Tolsen (1903-1944) in 1918 and the couple later had three children, Dorothy Mae (1921-2008), Lawrence Robert (b. 1922), and Theodore Richard Denny (1923-1976). According to available BIA census records, Denny and his family are documented as living in Ketchikan between 1938 and 1946, before Denny took up residence in T’éesh Kwáan Xagu in 1952 at the Gashéiksh House. The Ketchikan Daily News (9 Sept. 1961) also reported that Denny worked as a fisherman in the T’éesh Kwáan Xagu area aboard the F/V Kay. However, family stated that Denny had leased the F/V Kay for a short period, but actually worked aboard his own ship Coastal Pride which he fished from for 30 years. He was a member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. He lived in T’éesh Kwáan Xagu until his death in 1979. 

Sources: Words of Henry Denny Jr. on recording in Box 1, Item 9; recording of Denny Jr. on MC 41, Tape 58, file notes on Denny, correspondence with donor and grandson Bruce Kelley, and National Register of Historic Places Registration Form documentation on the history of the Chief Kashakes House, BIA Census records, and book The Legacy of Saxman: Looking to the Future Through Our Past (2011).

Subject/Index Terms

Tlingit Indians--History.
Tlingit language.

Administrative Information

Repository: Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Use Restrictions: Intellectual Properties Note: Since SHI adheres to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, and since we desire to honor Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian traditional cultural belief that clans retain the intellectual property rights to clan stories or songs, patrons who use or study clan songs or stories are asked to credit clan ownership to stories and songs.

Acquisition Source: Bruce E. Kelley

Acquisition Method: The recordings in this collection were donated to SHI in two batches, the first on Jan. 29, 2010 (Acc. #2010.029) and the second on February 28, 2010 (Acc. #2010.030) by Bruce E. Kelley, the grandson of Henry Denny Jr. The transcription of the migrated recordings as of 2013 was donated to SHI by Bruce Kelley on July 17, 2014.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Recordings on CD. [copies of materials in Box 2]],
[Box 2: Recordings on Cassette. [copies of materials in Box 1]],
[Box 3: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 4: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 5: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 6: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 7: Transcription of migrated recordings, entitled “Verbatim Transcriptions of the Henry Denny Jr. Collection; Oral History and Stories,” by Bruce E. Kelley and Gregory D. Kelley. (two copies)],
[All]

Box 4: Recordings on Open Reel.Add to your cart.

Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Recordings on CD. [copies of materials in Box 2]],
[Box 2: Recordings on Cassette. [copies of materials in Box 1]],
[Box 3: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 4: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 5: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 6: Recordings on Open Reel.],
[Box 7: Transcription of migrated recordings, entitled “Verbatim Transcriptions of the Henry Denny Jr. Collection; Oral History and Stories,” by Bruce E. Kelley and Gregory D. Kelley. (two copies)],
[All]


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