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Thomas & Harry Ukas Family Recordings Collection

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Recordings



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Thomas & Harry Ukas Family Recordings Collection, 1971-1990 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Thomas & Harry Ukas Family Recordings Collection, 1971-1990Add to your cart.

ID: MC/033

Primary Creator: Ukas, Thomas (1879-1973)

Other Creators: Ukas, Harry (1915-1993)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 07/21/2011

Subjects: Tlingit Indians--History.

Languages: English, Tlingit

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of nine audio recordings concerning Thomas Ukas and his son Harry Ukas, recorded between circa 1971 and 1990. The recordings primarily contain biographical information on Thomas and Harry Ukas, as well as detailed content on the Kiks.ádi and Teeyhittaan clans, and other Wrangell clans and history.

The six recordings concerning Thomas Ukas were recorded by him at his home circa 1971. Thomas Ukas was trained to know the history of his people and clan, some of which is shared on these recordings. This includes historical information on the history of the Wrangell Kiks.ádi, information on the various Chief Shakes and the Chief Shakes Clan House and totems, recounting of traditional stories, and Tlingit relations with Russians. Also of note are Thomas Ukas’ words on his involvement/participation in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s when Southeast Alaska’s totem parks and some clan houses were created and/or restored via federal Works Relief Project. These six recordings are primarily all in English, excluding when Thomas Ukas sings some songs with his wife Josie Ukas. One recording contains approximately 10 minutes of Josie Ukas speaking about her life and the establishment of the Alaska Native Sisterhood at Wrangell.

The following three recordings concerning Harry Ukas were recorded circa 1990, while Ukas was in the St. Anne’s Nursing Home in Juneau. In these recordings Harry speaks about his life history and mentions some of the cultural history and heritage of the Wrangell Kiks.ádi.

The recordings have been arranged by the main speaker on each recording, which primarily consists of six recordings by Thomas Ukas recorded circa 1971 and three by Harry Ukas recorded circa 1990. These recordings were originally captured on open reels, then migrated to cassette by the donor (both reel and cassette are retained by the donor), and then migrated by CD by SHI. Each recording is approximately 50 minutes long, and a description for each recording is provided in the item by item list below. Much of the descriptive information provided below was written on the original cassettes by the donor.

Biographical Note

Thomas Ukas (1879-1973) was born on October 12, 1879 at Wrangell, Alaska, the son of Tlingit Naanyaa.aayí clan artist and totem carver William Ukas (Yeeka.aas) and Kiks.ádi clan woman Susan (Stóok). Thomas Ukas was a Tlingit Indian of the Raven moiety, Kiks.ádi clan, and a Naanyaa.aayí yadí, with Tlingit names Gunaanastí and Aak’wtaatseen. He is often remembered today as a cultural leader and accomplished Tlingit artist known for his totem poles, including the Dogfish pole.

Thomas Ukas lived most of his life in Wrangell. During his life he worked as a freight hauler (up the Stikine River in his youth), merchant, surveyor, boiler and boat repairman, commercial fisherman, a guide for sport hunters, and Native artist. In 1909 he married Josephine ‘Josie’ Lewis (Shaa Tlein) (1879-1977), of the Teeyhittaan clan, and together they had two or more children, including Harry ‘Bud’ Ukas (1915-1993) and Martha Blanch Ukas (1911-1948).

Ukas is often remembered as a totem pole carver, who was involved in the Civilian Conservation Corps work during the late 1930s when Southeast Alaska’s totem parks were created or renovated, and clan houses were restored, such as the Chief Shakes House in Wrangell. Although Ukas carved other totems, in 1960 he was commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and Geologic Survey to carve a totem pole, and this Thunderbird Totem resides/ed at the U.S. Coast Guard and Geologic Survey offices in Seattle. He is also known to have completed work on a Kiks.ádi raven clan hat that came back into Kiks.ádi clan possession in December 2013.

Ukas passed away at Sitka on April 8, 1973.

Sources:

Obituary in the Wrangell Sentinel, 13 Apr 1973.

Content provided by Michael Hoyt, December 2013.

Subject/Index Terms

Tlingit Indians--History.

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: Ethel Lund

Acquisition Method: The material in this collection was donated to SHI on 7/21/2011 by Ethel Lund, the granddaughter of Thomas Ukas. Accession Number: 2011.021


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Box:

[Box 1: Recordings],
[All]

Box 1: RecordingsAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, circa 1971. Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 28:38 minutes; Side B: 28:11 minutes. Speaking in English. Content: recording contains Ukas recounting the history of his clan and people, discussing the totems and Chief Shakes House, words the CCC project in Wrangell and his involvement, and also includes the story Ukas termed the Fisherman, along with the story of the Three Brothers Mountain.Add to your cart.
Item 2: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, circa 1971 Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 28:27 minutes; Side B: 23:11 minutes. Speaking in English. Includes continued discussion on the totems (such as the Three Frogs Totem) around the Chief Shakes House in Wrangell, the story of how Chief Shakes cooked a man and feathers remained, story of how Thomas Ukas’ father was injured with a hatchet and how feathers were applied as medicine, a discussion of a Tlingit woman and her feelings and actions toward slavery, words about the nature of a koo.éex, and the story of the “man in the sun.”Add to your cart.
Item 3: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, circa 1971. Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 28:24 minutes; Side B: 25:12 minutes. Speaking in English, singing in Tlingit. Includes stories of clan migration and the separation of villages, a hunting trip by Thomas Ukas’ grandfather, hunting sea lions, a song composed by Thomas Ukas’ grandfather while lost, a flood song sung by Thomas Ukas and Josie Ukas, a love song sung by Thomas Ukas and Josie Ukas, and Josie Ukas speaking about how the Alaska Native Sisterhood started in Wrangell circa 1914.Add to your cart.
Item 4: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, August 6-8, 1971. Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 28:34 minutes; Side B: 25:54 minutes. Topics include the creation story of the Raven, story about the Black Skinned Nan totem on Shakes Island, and the protocols of how to invite people to a feast/koo.éex.Add to your cart.
Item 5: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, circa 1971. Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 25:16 minutes; Side B: 18:59 minutes. Speaking in English, singing in Tlingit. Topics discussed include; Raven stories, Ground Hog story and Ham Island, story of Raven gets Daylight, story of the Woman Who Controls the Tides, information about Thomas Ukas’ father, farewell song (Taku), story of raising a totem with the Russians, stories of the first Russian encounters with the Wrangell Tlingit, story of Chief Shakes going aboard a Russian vessel in disguise, the Tlingit trade and learn the Russian language, story of the Russian stockade’s establishment at Wrangell, mention of hearing from Baron von Wrangell, fur and weapons trade, story about trouble with Russian soldiers, and begins the story of the 1869 Bombardment of Wrangell [recording ends abruptly as account begins]. Thomas Ukas also gives a pot obtained from the Russians to his daughter.Add to your cart.
Item 6: Audio recording of Thomas Ukas, circa 1971, speaking about octopus hunting and the octopus who captured the woman [recording ends abruptly]. Format: CD; two copies. One track; Side A: 00:59 seconds.Add to your cart.
Item 7: Audio recording of Harry Ukas, undated, speaking about his life history via an interview with BIA official Carol A. Rawlinson while at St. Anne’s Nursing Home, in Juneau. Format: CD; two copies. Two tracks; Side A: 41:28 minutes; Side B: 12:00 Speaking in English. Includes mention of his fishing career, attending high school, time serving in merchant marines during World War II, Wrangell Tlingit history, discussion of totem poles, mention of Thomas Ukas’ father William Ukas who was a bracelet maker, discussion of how to carve a bracelet, and directed conversation and about Harry Ukas’s time at the St. Anne’s Nursing Home and goals the interviewer wanted Ukas to set. Format: CD. Two tracks; Side A: 41:28 minutes, Side B: 12:00 minutes.Add to your cart.
Item 8: Audio recording of Harry Ukas, copy of Item 7.Add to your cart.
Item 9: Audio recording of Harry Ukas, undated, speaking about his life history. Format: CD; two copies. One track; Side A: 29:48 minutes. Part of the recording is difficult to hear. Topics include mention of his uncle Harry, working at a sawmill, and about the Chief Shakes Clan House and its totems, how the ‘white man’ altered life at Wrangell, and how he learned his stories from his father.Add to your cart.


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