PIO or Contact Person:Becky Latanich
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Park Hosts Special Program with Historian John Cloud
Sitka National Historical Park (September 4, 2012) - This Wednesday, September 5th at 7:00 p.m. John Cloud, a contract historian at the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey will present an illustrated evening program in the Visitor Center theater titled: Finding Their Way- The Native Alaskan Contribution to 19th Century American Cartography.
Today's understanding of the contours and outlines of the Alaskan coast and interior evolved from a body of work in the 19th and early 20th centuries that is generally credited to the European explorers, Russian colonizers, American geographers, district administrators and naval officers.What is less well known is that some of this knowledge of the land and seacoast was passed along directly from Tlingit and Inupiat leaders to the foremost of the American cartographers, George Davidson. The exchanges between the Native Alaskans and the American map and chart-makers occurred over a period of more than 50 years, beginning in 1867, and involved a number of important figures in the history of Alaska-- among them Chief Kohklux (Shotridge) of the Tlingit Nation and Davidson during a three-year period at the time of the transfer, and then a further exchange that included Joe Kakaryook of the Inupiat people on the Lower Yukon, Sheldon Jackson of the Presbyterian Church, District Governor John W. Brady, and Kokhlux's grandson Louis Shotridge.Native influences and contributions were also evident in the work of Thomas C. Mendenhall, Marcus Baker and William Dall of the Coast Survey.
Mr. Cloud will talk through the history of this unique transfer of cartographic knowledge, illustrated by a series of slides showing the Tlingit and Inupiat mapping and artistic contributions to this new American understanding of the Great Land. Mr. Cloud presented on a similar topic at the 2010 International Conference on Russian America and has also found links between Native American knowledge and American cartography in California, at Fort Ross State Park.
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Last updated: April 14, 2015