The Russian Story: Woody Morrison. - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Russian Story: Woody Morrison.

I'm a Russian (Born there and can speak the language) and yet I still appreciate stories and I'm still a big fan of Woody Morrison. Follow Tlingit and Haida peoples of Alaska because it's a great group. 

Here is a bit of Pre-American history, IN TWO PARTS
RUSSIAN TREACHERY by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa

Part I
The United States of America claims to have bought Alaska from Imperial Russia but, the Russians not only did not own Alaska- it was not theirs to sell, but they were afraid of us.

In the 1700s when Russian Sealing Schooner (sáayaa tluwáay) would stop at Green Crab Apple Village (K’eik’ aa’anii) called Kaigani. They were usually accompanied by a large party of Aleut hunters with their Bidarkas. When Northern Haidas (K’íis X̱aadas) saw how lucrative the fur trade was, they demanded to be hired by the Russian (Lussan) sea captains. Gradually the bulk of the fur seal hunters were Haida.

It became a regular practice for a Russian Sealing Schooner (sáayaa tluwáay) pull in to the anchorage and pick up X̱aadas hunters. They would then sail out into the Gulf of Alaska, following the migrating Fur Seals as they made their way back to their rookeries in the Bering Sea and on the Aleutian Islands. During one of those voyages, the Russian Captain decided to stop feeding the Haida hunters, their diet became the carcases of the fur seals. The mood aboard ship was very tense.
Then one morning as the Haida hunters were coming out on deck for their daily hunt, the captain stood outside the companionway to the Haida’s berthing quarters with rag impregnated with soot (hldáamat) from the galley stove (ts’áanuudaan) stove pipe (Gayaaw) . As each Haida stepped out on deck the Captain wiped soot on the exiting Haida's face then stood back and laughed. One of the Haida seal hunters (Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa) was incensed by the insult. He turned to his two slaves (X̱aldangaa) and told them they were returning to their quarters.

Once there Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa told his two slaves that in a short time they were going to go back up on deck. He then went on to order Number One Slave (X̱aldangaa SG̱waansang) to load his gun (jagw). “...when we go up there, if that man wipes that thing on my face again I want you to Bust him in the head.”

He turned to Number Two Slave (X̱aldangaa Sdang) and also instructed him to load his gun. “If that Captain’s wife (Jáa) comes out on deck after her husband is killed, you fix her.”

The three men returned to the deck where the Captain wiped that soot on the face of the Haida hunter (Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay)) again then walked away laughing. Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay instructed Number One (X̱aldangaa SG̱waansang), “Go ahead. Fix him.”

The Slave (X̱aldangaay) shot the Captain in the head and he fell to the deck dead. A few moments later, the Captain’s wife, hearing the shot, came out on deck to investigate. She saw her husband lying in a pool of blood, screamed and ran to him, and cradled his head in her arms.

“Go ahead.” The Hunter (Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay) ordered Number Two Slave (X̱aldangaa Sdang) “Bust her in the head.”

The slave complied and shot her dead. Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay then ordered the slaves to dump the bodies over the side into the ocean.

The other X̱aadas watched the whole thing then, as one, they rushed the First Mate and took him captive. The rest of the Russian crew were afraid to get involved. Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay ordered the First Mate to bring them back to K'eik'aanii, to take them home. The Mate did as ordered. However, in the middle of the night, in an attempt to fool the X̱aadas he reversed the binnacle (reversed the direction indicated on the Compass - North became South and vise-versa) on the compass and changed course for the Sandwich Islands (Hawai’i) in hopes of getting help.

In the morning the X̱aadas arose from their beds and immediately sensed something was wrong; the ship’s rolling was wrong. They immediately went on deck to investigate and saw that the Sunrise (juuyáay ḵáatl’aahliyaay) was on the wrong side of the ship (Sáayaa tluwáay). They rushed enmasse to the helm to check the compass and saw what the Mate had done. The Haida men grabbed the First Mate, Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaay drew his skinning knife (ḵ’it’uhl ’la’áaw) and held its cutting edge (ya’áats kún) to the man’s belly (dál), and told him to turn the ship around of he would, “...cut your guts (sdlaan) out on the spot.”

When the ship arrived back here K’eik’aanii, the men were so happy to be back that they rushed to get ashore. The First Mate yelled at them, swearing to get even with them for what they had done to the Captain and his wife. The X̱aadas were anxious to get home and ignored the threat.
The following Spring the Tlingit (Hlaanggas) of Sitka invited the K’eik’ a’aanii people to a Potlatch (Gyaa isdlaa). They loaded up their canoes and answered the invitation. The Potlatch went on for five days and nights.

On the final day, the Russian Governor stood and demanded to know, “...which one of X̱aadas killed that Captain and his wife?”

Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa stood and declared, "I killed them."

The Governor then ordered his soldiers to take Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa prisoner, then announced, “...tomorrow morning we will hold a trial and if that man is found guilty he will be hanged by the neck until he is dead.”

Here is the second part of the Russian story.

Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa stood and declared, "I killed them."

The Governor then ordered his soldiers to take Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa prisoner, then announced, “...tomorrow morning we will hold a trial and if that man is found guilty he will be hanged by the neck until he is dead.”

by Woody Ḵáawan Sangáa

Part II
NOTE: It must be noted that in 1776 when the Spanish Sea Captain, Juan Perez made contact with Haidas at the northwestern end of Haida Gwaay, he described, "The average Haida man stands about 5 ft. 8in. tall and weighs about 240lbs. They are fairer-skinned than most Italians or Frenchmen, with a high percentage of red heads." We have always had light-skinned people.

In a book, originally titled "Witch Doctor", a Tlingit Spirit Man described the musket as a stick that would throw a rock through 2 Haidas or 3 Aleuts. (Europeans were not much bigger than the Aleut so there was quite a difference in the size of the men.)
The following morning, shortly after convening a 3-Judge Tribunal, the First Mate told his story. Then, before the court had time to do anything else the doors and windows shattered inward, X̱aadas and their Hlaanggas hosts appeared together, armed for a fight. They filled the windows and the doorways.

Chief Skowall (Íihlaakdaas Sḵawal) strode into the Courtroom, faced the Tribunal and stated, “...if you harm one hair on that man’s head we will kill every one of you. You have gunboats and cannons out there, but you can load and shoot them only so fast. You will kill lots of us, but we will kill all of you. Now let that man tell his story.”

The Hunter (Ḵáajaaw ’la’áaygaa) told his story and was acquitted.

Chief Skowall (Íihlaakdaas Sḵawal) then pronounced, “From this day on, if we see any of you Lussian X̱aat’aay in our country we will kill you on sight.”

The Russians chose to heed Skowall’s promise and stayed away from Haida country for a few years - wouldn’t come within 20 miles of Haida Territory. Russians were fair-skinned (Fairer than X̱aadas) so anyone who was fair-skinned was fair game. X̱aadas killed lots of missionaries before they even had a chance to see even one of the Northern Haida territory (k’iis X̱aadas tlagáa). If a European Ship came within sight of land, the big Haida Canoes went after them.

The European ships were slow, cruised at maybe 8 miles per hour unless the wind was strong. The Haida Canoe (k’iis X̱aaas tluwáa) was reputed to be able to attain speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. When the Sailing Ships were spotted, the Canoes gave chase. They would sail up from behind, the rolling ships were not able to aim a cannon at them and the high bows of the Canoes shielded the men from musket balls.

The canoes would over-take the target ship, pull alongside, drop the sails and, one man would step on one man’s cupped hands - he would literally throw the other man up the side of the ship. That is how they boarded those ships.

It wasn’t long before their desire for profit took control and the Russians decided to take a chance. A ship under the command of Alexi Kuskof pulled in and anchored in front of K’eik’aanii. He was accompanied by 1,300 Aleuts hunters; Aleuts are good hunters on the ocean, and pretty good fighters but they were not prepared for a fight. They were quite a bit smaller than X̱aadas.

Haidas had spotted the Russian Sealing Schooner (Sáayaa Tlúwaay) off of Cape Lookout with all the Aleut Bidarkas - they were certain they knew their destination. Word went out.

When Alexi Kuskof and his Ship arrived, there were no people in sight so they figured it was safe to go ashore. They went in on their long-boats and the Aleuts followed on their Bidarkas (skin-boats). The Aleuts started setting up camp, using their Bidarkas as half-shelters.

Haidas were waiting, concealed by the trees. The men wore their War Helmets (SG̱ats’ dajangaay) but not their War Clothes (SG̱ats’ ging-gáay) because they would get in the way. This was to be a desperate fight to drive the Lussan from their territory (k’iis X̱aadas tlagáa). Some carried War Clubs with an antler head (skuj hlG̱a tl’uu), or the Whalebone Clubs (Kún Sajáay) others carried a War Stick with a knife blade at one end (Saj) and others were armed with Yew Paddles (Áalaay hlG̱iit) with fire-hardened and sharpened edges on the blades.

The War Leader (Sg̱ats’ ’la’áaygaay) called to the men to "Tie yourselves". When going into make War (Ḵiiduu) they would "tie themselves" - If they tied something around the head (Ḵaj)), they would take prisoners but, if they tied that thing around the waist (yahgwsíi) they would not take prisoners. They tied that thing around the waist.

Suddenly there were screams - blood curdling War Cries. Kíis X̱aadas attacked.

There were too many men on the beach and X̱aadas knew they couldn’t just rush into them. So they formed lines of 8 pairs of men, each line was about 100 feet apart. When the word was given, the lines of men charged straight down the beach, the ones in the lead stopped near the water’s edge.
Each pair of fighters was about 12 feet apart for those ahead of them. The ones on the left turned that way and the other ones turned right. So there was lines of X̱aadas with Aleuts between them, moving towards each other, killing anybody and everybody in front of them.

Only a few of the Russians were killed, 16 of Alexi Kuskof’s crew. Later, when the bodies were counted, there were over 800 dead Aleuts - that is the way of the Whiteman (Yáats X̱aat’aay) history - the brown skins die for them. They burned the bodies.

Captain Alexi Kuskof sailed away and, the Lussans stayed out of Haida country (X̱aadas tlagáa) for a few of more years then they tried to land some settlers on Chief Gunyah’s country, just east of K’uista. Gunyah’s people drove them off, killing a few. The Russians knew that our people would kill them on sight so hired a French ship to try again.

On June 7, 1816, the BORDELAIS, sailing out of Bordeaux, France under the command of Camille Roquefeuil, came in by Cape Bartalome and anchored by one of our villages in that area. They met the same fate as did Captain Alexi Kuskof.

The French, on a long-boat and some Aleuts on their Bidarkas, went ashore. The same thing happened, more Aleuts than Whites were killed: 2 French sailors killed, 4 severely wounded and, Captain Roquefeuil had to swim back to his ship to escape. Roquefeuil reported that of the 47 Aleuts, 20 men and 3 women were killed, 2 were missing and 12 wounded. Only one Haida was killed, “...after that they stayed clear until 1843.”

The only reason they dared to return was their supply ships from Kamchatka, Siberia did not arrive to re-supply them with food, they were facing possible starvation. So the Russian Governor, Etolin, took a chance and sailed to K’eik’ a’aanii.

This time the Russians asked the Hlaanggas for advice on how to approach the Haida, to negotiate for food. They were advised to sprinkle "Down" on the water before touching the shore. Once that was done, they had announced they would "walk softly on your land" and, they could not be attacked. X̱aadas talked to them and agreed and, in the Fall of 1845 the Russians reported that 250 Haida Canoes arrived at New Archangel (near the present day Sitka, Alaska) with food for trade - enough to get them through the coming winter.

One of the major food items was potatoes, the Tlingits had not yet learned to plant them in large quantities. Haida History says their first potatoes came from a People who live under the clouds that hold against the Mountains (Nang Sḵist’iigang X̱aat’aay), possibly the Quechewa or Incas of Peru.
The Russians recorded that Kíis X̱aat’aay ate their morning meal at K’eik’ a’aanii then set out for New Archangel, and arrived in time for their evening meal. They sailed their canoes over 280 miles in about 10 hours. It usually took the Russians two to three days to cover the same distance.

The Russians also reported that one of the first canoes to arrive was over 90 feet long, and carried 3 tons of cargo and 40 passengers.

This is the end of my story (gyaahláang).

Share, like and subscribe to this site
Send a tip or a story or a classified or hatemail to
Support this site and make a small donation (and you'll receive the POW Court Report in an email)
Ads just 10$ a month

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.