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Tamaree, William (1862-1956) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Tamaree, William (1862-1956)

Historical Note:

William Baptiste Tamaree (1862-1956) was born April 14, 1862 in Wrangell, Alaska, and was a Tlingit Indian of the Wolf/Eagle moiety, Kayaashkeiditaan clan, X’aan hít. His Tlingit name was Sheeshgaaw. He was the child of a Kayaashkeiditaan clan Tlingit mother and French-Canadian father.

In Tamaree’s youth it appears his biological father died, and his mother remarried a Tlingit man of the Teeyhittaan clan. Tamaree also credited being raised by Teeyhittaan clan individuals Mary Thomas and Nick Gush (Sik’nax.ádi yadí).

Early in Tamaree’s adult life, he stated he married to a Tlingit woman who was much older than he, and she died of natural causes an unknown number of years after their marriage. In 1905 Tamaree married Teeyhíttaan clan woman Matilda ‘Tillie’ Kinnon (1863-1952) and they later raised two children together, Frances E. Tamaree (1905-1958) and Gladys June Tamaree (1908-1924). William Tamaree lived most all his life in Wrangell, though he spent less than five years in Petersburg working in the fishing industry.

Tamaree is often remembered as an advocate for Tlingit culture and civil rights, as well as being a respected cultural leader and knowledge barer in his community. During the 1930s Tamaree was part of the group Shtax’héen Kwáan Tlingit that organized the Wrangell Cooperative Association, an IRA tribal government, and he was an active member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood. The 1940 BIA census reported that Tamaree and his wife lived alone in Wrangell, and that he could speak English, but could not read or write. In 1944 he testified in the court case William L. Paul vs Pacific American Fisheries about the possessory rights and aboriginal title, including words about Tlingit use of the land and waters and the role of the Tlingit legal system in establishing and recognizing clan ownership of certain lands and waters.

In January 1956 Tamaree became very ill and was flown to Oregon for medical treatment, where he passed away.


-          Alaska Fisherman (September 1924)

-          Obituary in the Wrangell Sentinel (3 Feb 1956)

-          BIA Census records (1940)

-          Deposition of William Tamaree from William L. Paul vs Pacific American Fisheries (1944)

-          Tamaree’s words from recordings in SHI’s archival collections (MC 13)

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