Kake, Kupreanof Island

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Kake, Kupreanof Island

by | Nov 17, 2018

Kake is a Tlingit Native village on the northwest shore of Kupreanof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska. The region of Kake and Kupreanof Island has been inhabited by the Tlingit for thousands of years. The name Kake comes from the Tlingit word Ḵéix̱ (Northern Tlingit) or Ḵéex̱ (Southern Tlingit), which is derived from ḵée “dawn, daylight” and x̱ʼé “mouth”. The derived name means “mouth of dawn” or “opening of daylight”.

Following the Alaska Purchase in 1867, the U.S. Army came to Sitka to serve as the civil administration entity for the Department of Alaska. On New Year’s Day 1869, three Tlingit chiefs were invited to visit Fort Sitka. One of the chiefs was involved in an altercation with soldiers that resulted in gunfire and the killing of several Tlingit who was attempting to leave Sitka by canoe. The Kake in retribution captured a party of four trappers on Admiralty Island. Two white trappers were killed at Murder Cove and two mixed-race Tlingit-Russian guides were purposefully set free.

On February 11, 1869, USS Saginaw, a Navy sloop-of-war, was sent to the Kake tribal lands to capture the Tlingit responsible for the killing and to burn the villages. The villages of Fossil Bluffs, Hamilton Bay (present-day Kake), and Retaliation Point in Security Bay were burned. Saginaw also found two deserted forts with stores and smokehouses which were also destroyed by fire. An unexploded Parrott shell, a relict from the conflict, was discovered embedded in a tree stump in the 1940s. It was kept as a family heirloom for many years before being defused in 2011 and placed on display in the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kake and Kupreanof Island here:

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