Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A rare image and the story of George Schwatka

Collector Richard Wood this week donated a rare image to Sealaska Heritage Institute showing George Schwatka (Ind-A-Yanek) in Haines circa 1900. Ind-A-Yanek (later known as George Schwatka) was often photographed by early photographers of Alaska, though this image is quite rare--in part because it’s the only known image of a Tlingit on a horse during this period. Ind-A-Yanek of Klukwan is sometimes remembered as a guide to non-Natives who traveled inland during the gold rush era and exploration period, slightly before and after the turn of the century. In 1883 the federal government sent 1st Lt. Frederick Gustavus Schwatka (1849-1892) to Alaska to do a survey of routes from Haines to Fort Selkirk, Yukon. Lt. Schwatka hired Ind-A-Yanek to guide his party for the survey. Ind-A-Yanek did so, but Schwatka refused to pay him after his work concluded. Ind-A-Yanek told Schwatka that he would take his last name for the rest of Ind-A-Yanek's life as a ridicule payment, and thereafter Ind-A-Yanek was known as George Schwatka.

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