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Visaya, Bessie (1898-1996) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Visaya, Bessie (1898-1996)

Historical Note:

Bessie Edwards Miller Visaya (Kaachgun) was born July 17, 1898 in Juneau at Norway Point. Visaya was a Raven, Leeneidi of Teel Hit (Dog Salmon House), and the daughter of George Edwards, and Eagle Killer Whale from Klukwan. Visaya spent much of her life in Juneau, and in her latter years served as naa tlaa of Juneau’s Auk’w Kwaan Clan. She organized Juneau’s Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) Camp 2 after attending the 1926 Alaska Native Brotherhood convention in Klukwan. In 1928 she served as the first ANS Vice President for Grand President Elizabeth James, and later as ANS Grand President in 1937. She remained active in ANS for 70 years.

Bessie married James Miller, a miner who died of a heart attack in 1944. She later married Ted Visaya, a Filipino immigrant and fisherman. Visaya died at age 97 on January 9, 1996 in Juneau.

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Source: K. L. Metcalfe, In Sisterhood: The History of Camp 2 of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Juneau: Hazy Island Books, 2008, 16-19.

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