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Frederica de Laguna Tlingit Fieldwork Recordings Collection


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

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Frederica de Laguna Tlingit Fieldwork Recordings Collection, 1952-1954 | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

By Zachary R. Jones, Archivist

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Collection Overview

Title: Frederica de Laguna Tlingit Fieldwork Recordings Collection, 1952-1954Add to your cart.

ID: MC/047

Primary Creator: Laguna, Frederica de

Other Creators: Tlingit Indians.

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

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

Languages: Tlingit, English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of CD copies of ten audio recordings made by Frederica de Laguna at Yakutat, Alaska in 1952 and 1954. The original Laguna recordings from 1952 and 1954 are held by the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia. It should be noted that Laguna made a number recordings of Tlingit individuals during her career as an anthropologist, and the recordings in SHI’s collection do not constitute a comprehensive set. Researchers should contact the American Philosophical Society to learn about additional Tlingit recordings.

The recordings in this collection contain songs and stories about the Tlingit Indians of the Yakutat and Dry Bay area of Southeast Alaska and concern most clans of this area. Many of these songs and stories discuss important aspects of Tlingit history and culture, as they were told and sung by knowledgeable elders. Some of these include stories and songs on Tlingit history, ceremonial and cultural protocols, stories about Tlingit at.óow, clan houses, stories about Tlingit lands and places, and other important information. Stories and songs are in both the Tlingit and English languages. The recordings also contain some words by Laguna.

The recordings in this collection have been described based on the descriptive forms provided by the American Philosophical Society, though this information has been updated. This update and correction resulted since from 2008-2010 researchers commented that some descriptions were said to be inaccurate and out of order. As result, via a 2011-13 IMLS Enhancement Grant, Sealaska Heritage Institute contracted fluent speaker Fred White (Shangukeidí Clan, Xeitl Hít) of Yakutat to review these recordings. White, who grew up in Yakutat and knew and was related to many of those who spoke in the recordings, provided corrective and enhanced feedback on the recordings and their content. The descriptive information for the items in this collection was updated in December 2011.

Note: Since American Philosophical Society (APS) contains the original recordings that comprise this collection, SHI cannot make copies for researchers without the permission of the APS.

Biographical Note

Frederica ("Freddy") de Laguna (1906, Ann Arbor, Michigan – October 6, 2004) was an American anthropologist. Her parents, Theodore Lopez de Leo de Laguna and Grace Mead Andrus, were, respectively, Spanish-American and, in Frederica's own words, "Connecticut Yankee". Both received doctorates from Cornell and would later teach philosophy at Bryn Mawr College. On her father's side she also had French, German, and Italian ancestry.

She is most noted for her work with the Tlingit and Athapaskan peoples, as well as being one of the first female archaeologists in the United States. Margaret Mead and Dr. de Laguna were the first female anthropologists elected to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1975. Later, she was also influenced by A. Irving Hallowell.

She received a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, graduating summa cum laude, in 1927. She then pursued a doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University, where she studied under Franz Boas and took classes with Ruth Benedict and Gladys Reichard. Her doctoral research in Greenland and France was initiated by Boas's suggestion that she search for possible European paleolithic sources for Eskimo (Inuit) art styles, with an eye toward proving that the Inuit were of European, not Siberian, derivation. Around this time she also took courses at the London School of Economics with Bronislaw Malinowski and C. G. Seligman. She reports that Malinowski tormented her because of her association with his nemesis, Boas.

In 1929, she assisted Therkel Mathiassen at his Norse culture archaeological excavation at Inugsuk, Greenland. Beginning in 1930 from the Kachemak Bay area, she did archaeological fieldwork in Alaska and the Yukon. In 1930 Kaj Birket-Smith was supposed to join her, but due to illness, the latter was unable to come. Thus in 1930, she went to Alaska on her own. While in Cordova, Alaska, the local marshal began to explain to her about the indigenous peoples of the area, insisting that the Eyak were a people of their own, thus introducing them to American science. In 1933 Birket-Smith was able to come, and he, Frederica, her brother Wallace de Laguna and mother Grace de Laguna as well as Norman “Sandy” Reynolds spent that summer mostly in archaeological excavations in the Prince William Sound. However, when they came to Cordova, the area was still covered with snow and ice, and archaeological work was impossible. Thus they spent the first 17 days with the Eyak. Frederica and Reynolds brought their notes to the attention of Franz Boas and Edward Sapir, i.e. western academic attention for the first time. The result was that these two scholars concluded that Eyak was not an Athapaskan language, but formed an independent branch of the same language family, being also more distantly related to Tlingit.

She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1933. In 1936 and 1937 she did fieldwork on the Pima reservation in Arizona and with Salish, Makah, and other peoples in Washington State and on Vancouver Island. Starting in 1938, she taught anthropology at Bryn Mawr and eventually founded the anthropology program there. She retired in 1975.

Beginning in 1949, she did extensive fieldwork among the Tlingit of southeast Alaska, the work for which she is best known. She focused on the communities of Angoon and Yakutat and did some fieldwork with her former students Catherine McClellan and Marie-Françoise Guédon. She was scientifically active until the very last days of her life. She also followed modern technology and made use of it. While aged 82, she observed the faculty of the Alaska Native Language Center use a Macintosh computer. She immediately recognized the value of this device and bought one for herself. Later, at age 92, she began to use e-mail, which she finally had to give up some months prior to her death due to her failing eyesight.

Source: Wikipedia, accessed January 15, 2010.

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: American Philosophical Society

Acquisition Method: The copies of the recordings in this collection were obtained by SHI prior to 2007. The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia appears has the original recordings that comprise those in this collection.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],

Box 1Add to your cart.
Item 1: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 1, 1952, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

A) Jack Reed sings song about his love for the people of Yakutat. (June 20, 1952)

B) Charlie White tells story of Raven when a Russian Schooner came to his beach where Raven was living in a boulder House. They brought rum ashore and Raven became drunk.

C) Charlie White sings song his uncle Khaawasaa (Dry Bay Chief George) composed about the Raven story: Funny dance song about Raven becoming drunk.

D) Minnie Johnson explains the story in English.

E) Jack Reed tells story about Raven how he wanted the medicine from the Sea Otter people when he broke his leg. (June 21, 1952)

F) Jack Reed- Charlie White sing the Traditional song about Raven deceiving the Sea Otter people for their medicine for his broken leg.

G) Jack Reed tells story of Kaakeix’wtí, man who killed his sleep. (The story of Kaakeix’wtí is a Raven Coho Clan story, and Sleeping House came from this story.)

H) Jack Reed sings traditional song Kaakeix’wtí composed attributed to him.

I) Jack Reed finishes story of Kaakeix’wti.

J) Minnie Johnson explains the story of Kaakeix’wtí. (Kaakeix’wti was a Chookaneidí man; he married a young Raven Coho bride. He taught the Raven Coho people how to catch Hooligan and put them up for food.)

K) Jack Reed sings drinking song.

L) Minnie Johnson explains the song.

Item 2: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 2, 1952, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

A) Minnie Johnson explains machine to Frank Italio.

B) Frank Italio practices singing.

C) Minnie Johnson and Frank Italio talk about the mourning song for Gos’naa.

D) Frank Italio sings traditional Thunderbird mourning song for Gos’naa.

E) Frank Italio tells story of young boy being left at Glacier Point

F) Continuation of Traditional Thunderbird screen song.

G) Minnie Johnson explains the story and song of Thunderbird origin.

H) Frank Italio tells story of Thunderbird Screen and sings Traditional mourning song.

I) Minnie Johnson explains the story and the mourning song.

J) Frank Italio’s song for Teikweidí Children and Kaagwaantaan  Children.

Side B

A) Frank Italio’s Love song for Teikweidí and Kaagwaantaan children.

B) Minnie Johnson explains the song.

C) Frank Italio sings traditional Raven Coho song for the brothers drowned in the mouth of Lituya Bay

Item 3: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tapes 3-4, 1952, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

Three songs by Annie Johnson

Side B

A) Annie Johnson continued

B) Raven Story - Frank Italio

Item 4: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 1, 1954, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

A) Jennie White Sings song of her mother who was a peace deer called American flag deer. Her mother was the peace symbol between Lukaax.ádi Raven Sockeye Clan and Thunderbird clan.

B) Charlie White song about Kaydutoow, composed for him as dance song at potlatch.

C) Charlie White sings his father’s brother’s Shaman Spirit song.

D) Charlie White tells the story of Little Stones Shaman Spirit.

E) Charlie White sings Xh’adaneik’ drinking song

F) Olaf Abraham tells the story of Golden Eagle and how the Teikweidí saved it and origin of golden Eagle screen.

G) Sheldon James Jr. his nephew translates Olaf Abraham.

Side B

A) Olaf Abraham song about Anklin River when he fishing there it makes him lonely for his family.

B) Olaf Abraham composed this song in 1949 about Kaagwaantaan (Eagle Wolf) Children.

C) Olaf Abraham mourning song for Kaagwaantaan (Eagle Wolf) Children. 

D) Minnie Johnson Teikweidí (Eagle Bear) peace song by her sister Mrs. Situk Jim.

E) Charlie White and Frank Dick, sing the Raven Coho mourning song of the Crane Boat a Raven Coho war boat.

F) Charlie White Song of Clarence Peterson mourning song of Raven Coho.

Item 5: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 2, 1954, copy on CD. Add to your cart.

A) John Ellis tells story of Daxhadzoo–Shaman, her spirits foretold the coming of the Russians

B) John Ellis tells another story (Hard to translate the story in audible to me)

C) Jim Kaydutoow song for his Grand Daughter Teikweidí children Situk Train song, sung by Charlie White and Mrs. Chester Johnson

D) Song by Jennie White, Mrs. Chester Johnson of Lituya Bay George when bear chased him and nearly killed him

E) Mrs. Chester Johnson sings her Uncles song Daaxhkoowadéin he composed it when his first wife Jennie Dick died in 1912.

F) Annie George sings song composed by Khaawasaa (Dry Day Chief George) in 1910 potlatch when the (Digginaa Hit) Far Out House was completed.

G) Jennie White Mrs. Chester Johnson sing Athabascan dance song first one Athabascan, second one Tlingit way.

A) Frank Italio tell Frog Screen Story and sings song.

B) Helen Bremner explains the Frog Screen story and song

C) Frank Italio’s Uncle, Shaman a Raven Coho songs

D) Another Shaman song.

E) Frank Italio tells Raven cries for daylight story,

F) Raven Story songs about daylight

Item 6: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 3, 1954, copy on CD. Add to your cart.

Side A

A) Emma Ellis sings Kaagwaantaan mourning song; attributed to the X’at Kwáan and Kaagwaantaan war.

B) S’elt’in marriage song. Sung by Emma Ellis

C) Lukaax.ádi song going under the ice in the Alsek River They would wear their finest clothes when Gax Tlein would let them all know they made it through to the other side. Sung by Emma Ellis.

D) Emma Ellis sings the first song again her grandfather’s song Kashkéin

E) Emma Ellis translates the song of Kashkéin.

F) Blind Dave Dick’s deathbed Love song for Kaagwaantaan children

G) Emma Ellis sings her Brothers song (Kaaljaagee) to Kaagwaantaan Children H) Louise Peterson sings her sister Fanny Williams song to her Raven Coho Children I)Song re-sung in correct order

Side B

A) Frank Italio sings Traditional songs Raven Boat, Boulder Boat, River Marker Deer song his Grandfathers songs.

B) Mrs Frank Dick sings Raven post song.

B) Minnie Johnson sings pet song for a boy.

C) Another song for a girl

D) Annie George Sings Blind Dave Dicks Mourning songs for when her husband’s younger brother’s car went into the water he cried on this song.

E) Annie George sings pet song for little girls when her daughter had a baby girl.

Item 7: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 4, 1954, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

A) Mourning Song of guditt'a - Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaacs

B) Walking Over Glacier Song - Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaacs

Side B:

- Walking Over Glacier Song continued - Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaacs

A) Copper River Dance Song - Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaacs

B) Frederica de Laguna Tlingit Song - Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaacs [several takes]

Item 8: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 5, 1954, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

A) BA Jack's Song - Mary Thomas

B) Kitty Martin's Song - Helen Bremner, Louise Peterson and Mary Thomas

C) Kandeetoo Song - Nick Milton

D) Killer Whale Drum Song - Nick Milton and Olaf Abraham

E) Raven and Snipes Song - Katy Isaacs, Mary Thomas, Louise Peterson and Nick Milton

F) Raven and Mussels

G) Max Italio Love Song - Helen Bremner

H) Mrs. Chester Johnson's Song

I) Mrs. Chester Johnson's Song

Side B

A) Song of Slave - Minnie Johnson

B) Song of Slave - Minnie Johnson

C) Blind Dave Dick's Song - Minnie Johnson and Mrs. C. Johnson

D) Maggy Harry's Father's Song - Maggy Harry

E) Thunder Blanket Song - Mrs. C. Johnson

F) Thunder Blanket Song - Mrs. C. Johnson

G) Shaman's Song - Mrs. C. Johnson

H) Another Shaman's Song - Mrs. C. Johnson

I) Song to F. de Laguna - Mrs. C. Johnson

Item 9: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 6, 1954, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

A) Shaman's Song - Jenny Jack

B) Jenny Jack's Song

C) B.A. Jack's Song

D) 3 Short Songs - Sarah Williams

E) Raven and Herrings, Ravens and Snipes - Sarah Williams and Jenny Jack

F) Killer Whale Drum Song - Nick Milton

G) Teikweidí Walking Song - Nick Milton

H) Teikweidí Dancing Song - Nick Milton

I) Teikweidí Mourning Song - Nick Milton

J) Shaman's Song - Nick Milton

K) Humorous Peace Dance Song - Mrs. C. Johnson

Side B

A) Song for Frog Screen - Mrs. Frank Dick

B) Raven Cries for Daylight - Mrs. Frank Dick

C) Song of Mourning - Mrs. Frank Dick

D) Athabascan Song - Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dick

E) Athabascan Song - Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dick

F) Frank Italio's Song - Mrs. Frank Dick

G) Dry Bay George's Song - Mrs. Frank Dick

Item 10: Audio recording made by Frederica de Laguna, Tape 7, 1954, copy on CD.Add to your cart.

Side A

Bird Songs

Song for Murrelet Staff - Mrs. Chester Johnson and Jenny White

Dry Bay Chief George's Song - Mrs. Chester Johnson

Funny Song about Raven 2 - Minnie Johnson

Side B

Marching Song - Maggy Harry

Resting Song - Maggy Harry

Mourning Song - Maggy Harry

Jimmy Jackson's Love Song - Maggy Harry

Haida Love Song - Maggy Harry and Jenny Jack

Kwaashk'i Kwáan 'National Song" - Maggy Harry

Jimmy Jackson Song - Jenny Jack

Kwaashk'i Kwáan Mourning Song - Maggy Harry and Jenny Jack

Aleut Gun Dance Song - Maggy Harry and Jenny Jack

Funny Song about Raven - Minnie Johnson

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