Friday, August 12, 2011

Former Kake family heirloom ordnance de-armed, deactivated

The Organized Village of Kake (OVK) with the assistance of the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) diffused the historic Civil War Parrott Shell ordnance that a Kake family had passed among family members for decades.

“It has been in our family over 100 years,” Kake elder Michael Jackson said when State Troopers and Elmendorf Air Force explosives experts had first traveled to Kake to investigate the shell on June 23, 2011.

The Air Force x-rayed the contents at that time and had the ordnance placed in a safe building in Kake until it could be diffused.

On July 14, SHI Archivist Zachary Jones secured private consultants who specialize in Historic wartime ordnance. The consultants removed nine ounces of gunpowder and broken fuse particles to make the ordnance inert.

The ordnance could have created a crater about four or five feet in diameter if it exploded.

The diffusion of the ordnance coincided with the OVK 23rd Annual Culture Camp for the Kake youth, and information was shared with the older overnight campers, ages 13-18, and community members the evening of July 14.

“This is the first time we’re bringing it out in public,” Jackson told the youth. “We know you guys are interested in history because you’re learning how to be Kake people, Keex’ Kwaan. You’re part of the ancestry that the U.S. Territorial Army came across. And that they had an encounter with us, a violent one. But it’s part of our history, it’s part of our healing.”

Since the shell was made inert, other Kake community members have shared where other shells are located. Another Parrott shell was donated by a Kake descendant to the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.

The OVK and Kake want to share the shells and their history, working in partnership with SHI, to other communities and the State of Alaska.

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