Totem Heritage Center Timeline of Native History

I wrote up the following timeline for the Totem Heritage Center, an awesome museum in Ketchikan that preserves some of the oldest Tlingit and Haida totem poles in the world. I wrote the original version in 2012 when I first worked at the Heritage Center. Now I've been rehired for this summer, and this is my updated version.

Early 1700s — Haida move north into Lingít Aaní (Tlingit country), begin living on southern Taan (Prince of Wales Island)
1741 — The Alexei Chirikov expedition sees Tlingit, the first European encounter of Northwest Coast people
1774 — Juan Perez leads the first Spanish expedition north of California, likely bringing smallpox to Haida Gwaii and Taan.
1774-1834 — Fur trade ongoing between Natives and Europeans in Southeast Alaska
1793 — George Vancouver circumnavigates and names Revillagigedo Island
Late 1700s — Members of the Taant’a Ḵwáan (Tongass Tribe) move to Dàasaxakw (Village Island)
1830s — Members of the Taant’a Ḵwáan move to Kadúḵx̱uka (Tongass Island)
Mid-1800s — Taant’a Ḵwáan occupies both Dàasaxakw and Kadúḵx̱uka
1835-1838 — Smallpox epidemic decimates populations across the Pacific Northwest
1860s — Many Taant’a Ḵwáan move from Dàasaxakw to Kaduḵx̱uká
1862 — Another smallpox epidemic hits with extreme virulence
1867 — United States purchases Russia’s claim to Alaska for $7.2 million
1868 — U.S. army outpost and customs house established at Kadúḵx̱uka
1876 — Canadian Indian Act outlaws potlatches and winter dances
1887 — Cannery built at Ketchikan, New Metlakatla founded on Annette Island by Tsimshian from Canada
1890s — Haida move from Ḵasaʼáan (Old Kasaan) to New Kasaan
1890-1920 — World museums compete frenetically to take hundreds of poles from Alaska and British Columbia
1892 — Chief Skowal dies in Ḵasaʼáan
1893-1894 — Taant’a Ḵwáan relocates to Ketchikan and Saxman
1894 — Saxman founded by Sanyaa Ḵwáan people from G̱àash (Cape Fox Village) and by Taant’a Ḵwáan
By 1900 — Taant’a Ḵwáan diminished 80% since 1800, largely due to disease
1900 — Ketchikan incorporated as a city
1904 — Fifteen Tlingit and Haida poles are displayed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, then relocated to Sitka
1910 — Alaska becomes a territory with an elected legislature
1912 — Alaska Native Brotherhood founded
1924 — United States citizenship extended to all Native Americans
1929 — American Legion Post brings several old poles to Ketchikan
Mid-1930s — Several totem poles are moved from Ḵasaʼáan to New Kasaan
1938-1942 — Totem Bight State Historical Park built
1939 — Saxman Totem Park established
1940 — Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) incorporated
1945 — Territorial legislature passes Anti-Discrimination Act, the first of its kind put into law in the United States
1951 — New Indian Act removes Canadian prohibition of potlatches
1969-1971 — Totem Retrieval Project brings abandoned villages’ poles to Ketchikan
1971 — Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act signed into law
1973 — Cape Fox Corporation created
1976 — Totem Heritage Center opened

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts, questions, or corrections!

For past posts about the Totem Heritage Center, read the following:
Coming Home to Ketchikan, Alaska
Fun Words in Lingít (Tlingit)
An Indigenous/Non-Indigenous or Western/Non-Western Art Dichotomy?
Done as a Tour Guide - For Now

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