National Geographic : 1965 Jun
had one of the highest Indian cultures in western North America. Today many are on relief and are said to be shiftless. I asked Frank how this reputation developed. "Because it is true of many of our people," he answered. "Missionaries and early govern ment officials tried to destroy our culture. I got many a whipping for speaking Tlingit on the school grounds. Our people lost their initiative. We had no leadership. We were not allowed to be responsible for our own lives. Now the Bureau of Indian Affairs people are encouraging us to save our language and revive our handicrafts. "But it's still impossible for us to get clear title to our lands. We can generally sell only to other Indians. The community can't tax Indian property, either. So, to make extra money for the school and finance a youth pro 800 gram, we're opening a community liquor store." The Tlingits have always been known for their valor. Russians suffered a military defeat at the hands of Tlingits in 1805, when warriors wiped out the foreign colony found ed near Yakutat. Remembering this and hearing that the Soviets had the atom bomb, an old Indian lady appealed for protection. She was sure descendants of the slaughtered Russian settlers would now avenge the massa cre by bombing tiny Yakutat. The village lies on a bleak Pacific shore south of the great glaciers fed by the St. Elias Mountains. Here, from 1909 to 1911, the National Geographic Society sent three expeditions to study the Yakutat Bay area. We found a willing guide in George Ramos, one of the best Indian dancers in Yakutat.