Story last updated at 1/15/2014 - 2:43 pm
The subject of the destruction of Sitka, or New Archangel, the first European settlement on Baranov Island, is a delicate one. Descendents of both the attackers and defenders are alive today. Of necessity, the only written records retail the account of the Russians. There is no record extant of the major underlying motives that led the Sitka Thlingits the "Kolosh" of the Russians, to raze the fort and massacre the inhabitants so this is a one-sided account (in part).
Baranov was leaving that June in 1800, besides warning his men to be constantly on guard, he also told Medvednikov to remind the hunters that they must "keep check their coarse prejudices" and hope to change the Kolosh's (Thlingits) low opinion of them ... because these people, being used to natural freedom since the creation of the world, have never thought of, nor know how to submit to the will of others, and can bear no slight without retaliation. The Russians were never a threat to any Thlingit Nation.
I had in possession an older copy of the Kostlivsev Memorandum, which stated that the Russians were in constant fear for their lives. When I discovered that someone stole the memorandum from my storage area, I went to the Ketchikan library to see if they had a copy. The library had to order a copy. As I read the new library copy, I noticed a lot of information had been changed. On the front of the new document, it showed that the late Ted Stevens had his stamp on the document's first page stating "This document was edited for easier reading". In other words, the document had been watered down.
The Russians and other nations had to get permission from the Kuiu when passing through their area which Dominion was exercised by GwashNaw Suckinaw, leader of Kuiu, which still has its native name. Traders were not allowed to set foot on Kuiu. The name Suckinaw is not just a name it is a title which means "Always been there or there was no one here before us."
Kochesov told them a strange story of a Sitkan Kolosh who had paddled out to sea lion rocks braving very stormy weather, and told him the fort was about to be attacked. The group should be on guard, even if they had forgotten their instructions from two years previous. All winter they heard rumors through the interpreter's wives that the Stikines and other tribes were planning an attack. They heard from other Indians that the Kadiak crew had been exterminated by the Kunakhovsk (Huna) people, that even Kuskov and Urbanov (two different parties) had been killed by the Khutsnov, Kuioutsk (Kuiu).
Kuskov wrote "... both we and our partovshchiks (hunters) were horrified by their terrible news, which I can barely write even now without shivering. Our new Archangel fort below Sitka and all the buildings had been burned to ashes and the people massacred."
In the Shadow Report submitted to the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland on March 2006, the U.S. violated the Constitution of the United States of America because: "It must obtain the consent of the governed, and it cannot unilaterally incorporate Alaska and Hawaii." In that light, the 1867 Treaty of Cession between Tsarist Russia and the U.S. is an unlawful treaty since the United States of America already denied that the Northwest Territories (Alaska at that time) was not part of the Russian Empire. The U.S. Supreme Court supported this position when it determined in 1975 in United States vs. the State of Alaska (422 U.S. 184) that the 1867 Treaty of Cession between the Tsar of Russia and the United States of America effectively a quitclaim. A quitclaim cannot transfer title, especially since the United States itself asserted that Russia had not acquired it. John Quincy Adams declared that Alaska Native Nations were free and independent and were equal to any European Government and have "title".
-- George Suckinaw James, Jr.