Search Results for 'historian'

Walter Soboleff, Tlingit linguist 1908-2011

“Tlingit Elder Walter Soboleff Dies at 102”,0,4639306.story

Noted Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff dies from the Juneau Empire.

2009-11-14 Celebrating 101 years Juneau Empire – Juneau,AK,USA
In the summer, he’d return to Alaska and work on the seine boats out of Sitka or the cold storage. The price of salmon then included humpies selling for 4 …

2008-11-14 nonagenarian centenarian Tlingit linguist

Dr Soboleff was a main speaker at the Elders and Youth Conference and at AFN in Anchorage this year. Elders and Youth is the convention which precedes the statewide Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention. Soboleff is important in anthropological linguistics but better known for his contributions to Alaska as reverend, teacher, organizer, archivist.

Walter Soboleff, AFN 2008

1908 was the year that the 88 million Americans living at the time heard about a “ball” dropping in New York’s Time Square to celebrate the coming of a New Year; it was the first year that Americans would honor their mothers (Mother’s Day). Teddy Roosevelt was president, a postage stamp cost 2 cents, and Henry Ford was developing the Model T, which would sell for $850.
Kajakti, “One Slain in Battle,” was born November 14, 1908, to Alexander Ivan Soboleff, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, and his wife, Anna Hunter of Killisnoo, Alaska. Kajakti (also spelled Kha’jaq’tii) was born into a world where his mother’s Tlingit culture was being forever changed by his father’s European one. He was named after an Angoon Clan leader to whom he was related.

As a 7 year old, Kajakti was taken to an Iicht (shaman) by his mother and was treated for reasons he never understood. He also experienced being sent to the “Russian school” in Sitka as an 8-year-old, only to be sent home again because it closed due to the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, its benefactor (1917). A year later, the 10-year-old served as an interpreter for a doctor who visited Killisnoo during the 1918 flu epidemic that brought many Alaska Native tribes to the edge of extinction.

JUNEAU — More than 1,000 papers documenting Alaska Native history by Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff have been posted on the Internet by Sealaska Heritage Institute in what officials are calling a unique and priceless collection.

Running from 1929 to 1995, the documents provide insight into the Native land claims struggle and the Alaska Native Brotherhood, institute president Rosita Worl said. … “He begins at a real pivotal time in our history,” she said.

Web Extra: Dr. Soboleff at 100 (extended version)

Tue, October 21, 2008 At the Elders and Youth gathering that precedes the AFN convention, First Alaskans Institute trustee Byron Mallot spoke about the incredible legacy of Tlingit elder Dr. Walter Soboleff. Soboleff will turn 100 years old in November and Mallot said introducing him was humbling. Here is an extended interview with Dr. Soboleff.

[revised 2008-11-14] The Anchorage Daily Newsreader provides additional links to his birthday celebration.

CELEBRATING A CENTURY-OLD NATIVE LEADER: The tributes continue for Walter Soboleff of Juneau – a Tlingit scholar and Presbyterian pastor – who turns 100 years old today, reports the Juneau Empire. In a speech Thursday at the Southeast Alaska Native Summit, Soboleff said that as white culture overtook Alaska, he “tried to take the best of both worlds.”

His son Ross Soboleff, 57, said that pluralist attitude was novel in his father’s time. “It certainly was presented to us, and to his generation, ‘The Native ways are old. We’ve got to put those aside and take on the new life.’ He was someone who pioneered the idea that, well, no, you don’t have to put those aside, those things are part of who you are. … I can make it in this greater society we live in, but I’m still a Native. Things that are part of our way of life have validity and value. Someone had to come up with that idea. This guy was one of the first to see that it’s possible – not just see that it was possible, but to actually do it.”

The article includes photos from Soboleff’s life. Soboleff gave a dramatic keynote speech at the Elders and Youth Conference last month in Anchorage. You can hear it at the Alaska Public Radio Network site. More than 1,000 papers by Soboleff documenting Alaska Native history are being archived by the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Many can be seen here.

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Claudia Alta Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson nonagenarian

National Public Radio did a nice story about Mrs. Johnson.

They mentioned some of her own accomplishments, including as

  • media mogul (radio) at a time when women did not participate in business, much less ran large ones
  • impetus for the Highway Beautification Act 1965 (Lady Bird Act) which removed highway billboards
  • as tireless worker for native plants photo from

These last two are hard to believe these days would have been much of a challenge to implement. But for anyone who witnessed the difference along federal highways and along the streets and parks of Washington, DC, and the then opposition , it was an amazing effort. The wildflower research center will be a lasting legacy, among others.

the first solo whistle-stop tour of a first lady in history (1964)
founded a national wildflower research center in Austin (1982)
first First Lady to receive Congressional Gold Medal (1988)

She was not the longest living First Lady (Bess Truman, 97 years).

Claudia Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas, near the Louisiana border, on Dec. 22, 1912. She was 2 years old when she was given her nickname by a maid who described her as “purty as a lady bird.”

She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1934 with bachelor of arts and bachelor of journalism degrees, and met Johnson, then a congressional aide, the same year…. In 1988 she received the Congressional Gold Medal for her environmental and humanitarian work, becoming the first wife of a president to do so.

In 1943, Mrs. Johnson bought a failing low-power daytime-only Austin radio station with an inheritance from her mother. Armed with her journalism degree and a tireless work ethic, she took a hands-on ownership role, selling advertising, hiring staff, and even cleaning floors. Over time, her Austin broadcasting company grew to include an AM and FM radio station and a television station, all bearing the same call letters: KTBC… Mrs. Johnson stayed actively involved in the LBJ Holding Company well into her 80s.

Stay tuned over at Ed Darrell’s place for his perspective, as a Texas historian. Update. The direct link–
Steel magnolias have nothing on Lady Bird Johnson, who understood the power of a blanket of flowers, the importance of roots and family, and how much grace can mean to those who get it.

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On-line history making

How to organize photos and text across time and space (collaboration amongst multiple people, known and unknown, the quick, the will be, and those who came before)?

The Al-Can and Aleutians WWII special project has been interesting for finding the limitations of the the existing “cyberspace” and “virtual communities” of “Web 2.0” that are all the buzz. [Running into the barriers came from day one; inadvertent trouble-shooting is a specialty skill of mine.]

While Flickr and blogs (MySpace, LiveJournal, and the new one for the middle-ageing,, are by definition solipsist and therefore especially useful for exhibitionism and voyeurism; they aren’t yet easy for creating and retrieving information.

from an E_lder-mailer, RE: On 8/15/06, A social networking Web site for Americans aged 50-plus went live on Monday — complete with an online obituary database that sends out alerts when someone you may know dies and that plans to set up a do-it-yourself funeral service. new-social-networking-site-for-age-50-plus-americans/

Indeed precisely what I was looking for. The automatic obituary and the self funeral! All these while the new definition of planet assigns 53 to our solar system. School books re-writers will be in demand [i.e., hire the over-50].

There are speciality websites for recording genealogy and family history. The more extensive ones require an annual fee. Many of the data sites are free, such as the Latter Day Saints archive. The web log might be an ideal venue for people to record anecdotes– one can record brief remembrances or notes as they occur; each post is dated; the text can be archived (a little more difficult, currently); and the postings can be collected into a more polished history or biography later. now allows for private posts. However, as I hope becomes clear, the interaction with others is needed.

Family histories can be done without the Internet, of course— The archival quality rag bond notepaper and Noodler’s permanent ink with “copperplate” script writing, recorded in great detail everyday by great great so-and-so, a nosy Parker with nothing better to do and who didn’t mind answering even the “cheeky” hygiene questions of the great great grandrelations to be — is exciting to look at (unless the fourth cousin thrice removed that one has never heard of lost it in a move or for gambling debts).

Life is interactive (see Erving Goffman’s work on social interaction). It is difficult for most people to conceive of what may be interesting of their lives to others. Strangers tell me they want to read about my “interesting life” but from this side it’s just ordinary and gets overlooked (fish in water, etc. I wouldn’t wish to undo an interesting life, but I’m too thoughtful to wish one on anyone else).

    What’s needed is a personal ethnographer or oral historian. Someone to ask questions.

Charlie King’s son points this out very well in a recent E-mail.

Spent virtually the whole morning reading some of the interviews from 341st ? guys. I copied out a bit that described the difficulty of creating the corduroy roads.

Too bad I never recorded any of Dad’s memories of the experience. He wasn’t one to elaborate greatly but could if he was pressed and I’d bet his would have been as detailed and well spoken as this guy who advanced from private to Master Sargent while up there indicating him to have been a uniquely talented guy:

In this one example, you can see some of the strengths of using the Internet, especially the world-wide web and E-mail. But also look at the Dawson project description,

The project was done with face-to-face (F2F) collaboration and tangible artifacts (photos) and only then assembled for later on-line use. Other projects come in “jukebox” format, CD-ROM or DVD and/or on-line.

Project Jukebox is the digital branch of the Oral History Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Project Jukebox was originally developed using hypercard in 1988, with initial support from Apple Computer’s Apple Library of Tomorrow program, and is a way to integrate oral history recordings with associated photographs, maps, and text.

None of this has solved the problem of linking pictures at Flickr or elsewhere with comments and annotations from others (moderated) and downloadable with metadata intact (unless one has money for a personal website and server). The work-around here doesn’t work — photo index CKing — even if one had highest speed internet, multiple monitors, touch-toe typing, Dragon Naturally Speaking transciption, multi-feed document scanner/fax, a cat that won’t walk the keyboard, ….

Oh, and even with the bestest of tech help ;)

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O’Folks (off their rocker)

Old age isn't a disease.

Arctic sunset

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