AHS Blog

Sesquicentennial Matters in Alaska

Date Posted: March 10, 2018       Categories: News

Close up of top of Seward’s Pole in Saxman, Alaska. The pole was carved by Stephen Jackson. Photo by Hall Anderson, used with permission.

The Alaska Historical Society is pleased to announce that the National Council on Public History just published an article “Sesquicentennial Matters in Alaska” by Anna Lee Hirschi, our contractor for Alaska’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Treaty of Cession. 





2018 AHS Conference Call for Papers

Date Posted: March 6, 2018       Categories: News

CALL FOR PAPERS

Gold-seekers and their building materials at Nome City, 1899. Alaska State Library, Clarence L. Andrews Collection (P45-1054).

Tundra & Ice: History in Alaska’s Arctic

Alaska Historical Society Annual Conference

September 12-15, 2018 in Nome, Alaska

Alaska’s Arctic is fertile ground for historical inquiry. Northern topics abound like whaling in the Arctic Ocean, the gold stampedes to Nome and Kotzebue Sound, the Prudhoe Bay oil strike, and the rich history of Inupiaq and Yupik people and their contributions to environmental protection and civil rights in Alaska. This year we look northward and contemplate ways to preserve our histories and share them with the world. As always, presentations on all Alaska history topics are welcome.

This year the Alaska Historical Society and Museums Alaska will hold their conference in Nome (a first for AHS), and this year’s theme—Tundra & Ice: History in Alaska’s Arctic—invites reflection on the people, landscapes, and events that have shaped Alaska’s higher latitudes. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Lorraine McConaghy, public historian at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry and Washington State History Museum, who has many years of experience wrangling with questions of whose stories are told and how we tell them.

You are invited to submit proposals for papers, panels, and poster sessions. Presentations are limited to 20 minutes. Presenters must be registered for the conference.

To submit a proposal, please send your presentation title, an abstract (<100 words), and two sentences about yourself to Chris Allan, Program Chair, sprucetip105@gmail.com.

Proposals are due May 15, 2018.

For more information, go to “Conference Information” and “How To Shape Proposals and Presentations” on the AHS website.





2018 Student and Emerging Professional Awards

Date Posted: February 19, 2018       Categories: News

The Alaska Historical Society offers two scholarship awards for travel to its annual meeting and conference, this year in Nome, September 12 – 15, 2018. One award is for a post-secondary student who is researching some aspect of Alaska history, and the other for an emerging professional in the field. Awards consist of reimbursement for documented travel expenses up to $1000 plus a conference registration package.

Eligibility:

  • An applicant must be a member of the Alaska Historical Society at the time of applying.
  • Student applicants must be a graduate student or upper-division undergraduate in fall 2018 with a course of study related to Alaska history.
  • Emerging professional applicants must be engaged in Alaska historical or cultural work and have been so employed for less than five years.
  • Applicants are required to attend the meeting in its entirety and make a presentation at the meeting (presentation title and abstract should be sent to Program Committee at: members@alaskahistoricalsociety.org).
  • Information about the meeting and the call for papers are at http://www.alaskahistoricalsociety.org/

Application process: Each applicant must submit: 1) letter with a statement of eligibility and an explanation of how attending the meeting will enhance academic or professional development; 2) title and abstract of proposed presentation; and 3) CV or résumé. Applications will be judged on the applicant’s achievement in Alaska history relative to current status and the likely benefit of the meeting for the applicant.

The application deadline is May 18. Electronic submission is preferred. Applications should be submitted electronically to Professor Michael Hawfield, AHS Awards Committee at: mchawfield@alaska.edu , or via regular mail to: AHS Awards, PO Box 100299, Anchorage, AK 99510.





Spring 2018 Knik Lecture Series

Date Posted: January 15, 2018       Categories: News

Mark your calendars!
The Knik Lecture Series is back for Spring 2018.

Our first event takes place on Thursday February 1 at Chugiak High School at 6pm.  Please Note ALASKA STUDIES TEACHERS WHO ATTEND BOTH EVENTS WILL RECEIVE PROFESSION DEVELOPMENT CREDIT.  Both events are free and family friendly.  

Here’s what’s on the Feb 1 line up:

6pm:  Public Engagement Session, Pacific Pathfinders

Come chat with MacArthur Genius Award recipient, Dr. Sven Haakanson, enjoy an array of refreshments prepared and presented by Michele Millar, and watch the film, The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific, which looks at how the ancient Polynesians settled the vast Pacific Ocean.  

7pm: Featured Presentation, Retracing Kayak Sea Routes From 1871

Evening schedule opens with a lively performance by the student-led Polynesian dance group Pacific Bloom.  Then, journey along with Sven Haakanson as he retraces the sea routes of the French explorer Alphonse Pinart and the four Unangan men assisting his travels from Unalaska to Kodiak Island in 1871.

 
Bios
Pacific Bloom is a dance group partnering with Mo’a Tosi AK Pride program. Its mission is to provide a positive environment for youth, to empower them through dance and history, and unite the Anchorage community one person at a time.
 
Sven Haakanson is a modern-day Pacific pathfinder and major force behind the revitalization of indigenous culture in Alaska and beyond. He is the former Executive Director of the Alutiiq Museum and received the MacArthur Genius Award in 2007. Currently, Sven is the Curator for North American Anthropology at the Burke Museum and Associate Professor at the University of Washington.  
The Knik Lecture Series is a collaboration between University of Alaska Anchorage, the Anchorage School District and Tundra Vision: Public History Consultants. Our aim is to bring Knik Arm communities together through history.
For program details, please contact Dr. Katie Ringsmuth at 830-2251, or visit Tundra Vision on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TundraVision/

 





From 1962 to 2017, Listening, Watching, Living, and Writing Alitak’s History

Date Posted: January 2, 2018       Categories: Alaska's Historic Canneries

By Rick Metzger

In the spring of 1962 when I was 11, my father, Elden Metzger, announced to the family that he would be going fishing with his brother, Wayland, for the salmon season at a place called Alitak.  Wayland had been a machinist with Alaska Packers Association and through that association and with his friend Don Slater they had acquired some set net sites in Alitak Bay on Kodiak Island.

My father was a small contractor who moved houses and did foundation work. Bills were many and incoming payments were slow. He was offered $1000.00 for a season’s work. I remember quiet discussions at home, visits to my uncles where they talked loud about the preparations for fishing and stories of great bears roaming the beaches. Mostly I remember my mother’s tears when we all said good bye to my father at the SEATAC airport and watched as he boarded the PNA Constellation for the 7 hour direct flight to Kodiak.

School was out and my mom, older sister Kathy, younger brother Russ and I headed to the berry fields for a summer of berry fights and sneak swimming in the irrigation ponds. It seemed like forever but a letter finally came to us from Alitak.  Dad said he missed us all and hoped we were all doing our share to help Mom out with chores and things. My sister was. Her berry card scored over $100. My brother and I were not so good. He told of great whales beaching, giant crabs, beach combing, bears, beach seining, picking fish and meeting a man called T.T.

To this day I am not sure how it all transpired, but somehow my father and T.T. Fuller made an agreement for the sale of Fuller`s mom and pop cannery operation and set net sites in Kempff Bay next to the Pacific American Fisheries cannery in Lazy Bay. My father used $850.00 of his $1000 season’s pay as down payment and somehow (considering he had been fishing for APA)  secured financing for the balance through, Winn Brindle the young superintendant of the Moser Bay Columbia Ward Fisheries (CWF) cannery, who had a joint packing agreement with PAF and the Alitak cannery.

My father made it home with $150 of his summer’s earnings and tales of excitement and adventure that would keep a 12 year old awake at night knowing that the next summer would not be spent in a berry patch. In the spring of 1963 we kids were let out of school early to leave for Alitak. There was no sadness in the family for this departure, but my mother wrote in her journal of her reservations of the trip and our new life.

Fern Fuller in front of PAF Alitak store, 1962.

T.T. (Ted) Fuller at his crab cannery in Kempff Bay, 1962. In addition to operating their own small crab cannery and set net sites, the Fullers worked as winter watchman for the PAF Alitak Cannery.

We arrived at Kodiak on a cold, gray day. The most memorable part of my first flight to Kodiak on the PNA ” Connie” was watching the oil streak down the engine cowl and drip off into space, and my father and friend wondering if it held enough oil to make it to Kodiak. It did.

We were met at Kodiak by T.T. Fuller and taken to his 2-story water front apartment building where  we were fed a spaghetti dinner by his wife, Fern, and then down to Kodiak Airways where there was a Grumman Goose waiting to fly us to Kempff Bay.  It was a long night and day, but we arrived full of excitement and energy for adventure. Little did I know that this day would be the first day of a 54 season career of fishing and working for the Alitak cannery and that I would someday be a part of over half of the history of the Alitak Cannery.

The summer of 1963 was one of fun and adventure for us boys.  Dad was fishing for the C.W.F. Moser Bay cannery under joint agreement with P.A.F., and a highlight of the summer was riding on the tender Ermine from Kempff Bay to Moser Bay, when we got to take turns steering. Our parents were going to meet us there after visiting with some other set netters on the way. Their visit lasted longer than it took us to get there. We were left alone aboard the Ermine to wait for our parents while the crew went about their business.  In our boredom we decided to climb the mast which led to my first encounter with Winn F. Brindle. He spotted us from his office window and with a loud bellow stomped down the dock asked whose kids we were and told us to get off the boat and sit on the dock’s bull rail until our parents arrived. We did as he said and for the rest of the summer tried to stay out of his sight.

Eric Johanson PAF Alitak beach boss 1962 Gallen Biery photo

My first visit to the Alitak cannery was less eventful but little did I know that Brindle would soon be the master of that location, also. It was here we met Rod, the jovial storekeeper who always had some smashed candy he said he couldn’t sell, and a bellowing giant of a beach boss, Eric Johanson, whose look would cower a 12 year old lad but who in truth was a gentle soul and a very kind man.

It was here at Alitak that I was introduced to the long, long tradition of mug up at the Alitak cannery. At 10 am, 3 pm and again at 8 pm long tables were set with coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, pastries and cold cuts for the cannery crew and after their break the tables were left full for the fishermen. It was here that a shy 12 year old could sit in a corner munching a cookie with hot chocolate and overhear stories of who was who and how it was back when. I listened to the stories. I remembered some, verified some and forgot some.  My heroes were the highliners of the day and my dreams were to be as they. As the years and seasons progressed the old timers faded away and I found myself being the one telling the stories at mug up and being asked how it was back then and who was who at Alitak.

PAF Alitak store keeper Rod, Gallen Biery photo 1962

About  this time Woody Kneble showed up at Alitak and started poking around into the history of the place and asking questions about when, where and who, we quickly realized that there were not too many people left that could carry on the stories of Alitak.  We started taking notes and gathering tidbits of information and gathered related artifacts for a small display at the cannery. One thing led to another and we decided it needed to be written down.

We received a grant from the Alaska Historical Society to help with the research and acquisition of information. We have now twice missed the deadlines for submission of our work and the patience of the Society and our expectant readers is wearing thin.

The physical history of the Alitak cannery is easy to document from archives, news clippings, memories and old photos that can be scanned and easily assembled and published.  Our work has led us into an amazing abyss of people, events and crossed paths that helped set the stage for the Alitak cannery. It has been our endeavor to try and work in enough of the peripheral  history to excite interest and imagination without taking away from the cannery story itself.

Wayne Axelson was the PAF Alitak superintendant in 1963, with his family.

From the earliest know inhabitants of Alitak, to the Russian fur traders, the sealers and otter poachers, the whalers, the gold seekers, military operation, the accomplishments of the men whose namesakes mark the prominate geography, shipwrecks, competition between the canneries and fisherman, inventors, eccentrics and many more, all had a hand in the history of the Alitak cannery . Sorting through all of the information and deciding what to use has become an enormous task for an illiterate like me.

Vice Admiral Clarence S. Kempff was a young ensign when he visited Kempff Bay with Capt. Jefferson Moser in 1900

Kindly bear with us as we continue the work to finish this project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Francisco Call, Volume 77, Number 160, 19 May 1895 — FOR THE ALASKA MINES. [ARTICLE]

This article has been automatically clipped from the San Francisco Call, organised into a single column, then optimised for display on your computer screen. As a result, it may not look exactly as it did on the original page. The article can be seen in its original form in the page view.

 

If anyone has any pictures or stories of events or characters from the Alitak area, please contact Rick Metzger at  alitakrat@aol.com.