Introduction - Tlingit IndiansThe Tlingit Indians are Native American Indians from the Pacific Northwest Coast of America and Canada; more specifically in southern Alaska in the United States and British Columbia and the Yukon in Canada. The list of facts below covers such topics as where they live, their history, and what interactions they had with early European settlers. This information is written for both kid and adults.
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General Tlingit Indians Facts
- The name Tlingit (pronounced TLIN-git) is derived from these Indians word for "people".
- In Canada there are two Tlingit tribes (also called bands or First Nation) named the Masset and Skidegate. Both tribes have their own reservation.
- The Tlingit Indians that reside in Alaska live in Native villages not on reservations. They belong to a coalition named the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska a tribal government that represents thousands of Tlingit and Haida Indians throughout the world.
- The Tlingit Indians have resided along the Northwest coast of the United States and the west coast of Canada for thousands of years.
- The Tlingit Indians used canoes made out of hollowed out logs made from spruce and cedar trees. They traveled up and down the Northwest Coast, up rivers, and in lakes for fishing, hunting, and trading. They also used the canoes for warfare. In facts some of their war canoes were longer than sixty feet (18.29 meters) long.
- These Native American people lived in an area with an abundant supply of food. The sea, rivers, and lakes were teeming with fish, seals, and otters. In the forest they gathered berries and hunted animals such as deer, and bears.
- Most of these Indians speak English and a few also speak their native language. Their native language is complicated and extremely difficult to learn. Their language has many sounds that do not exist in the English language. Only a few hundred of these Native Americans, mostly elders, can speak their native language.
- Traditionally Tlingit women were responsible for taking care of the children, cooking, and gathering plants to eat. The traditional role of men was hunting and fishing. Men also were the warriors. The tribes chief was always male; however both men and women could be clan leaders.
- The Tlingit people traded with many of the other Northwest Coast American Indians. Their Chilkat blankets were sought after by other tribes. They acquired huge sea worthy canoes from the Haidas.
Facts about the Tlingit Indians Contact with Europeans
- These Indians first contact with Europeans was in 1741 with Russian explorers.
- The Battle of Sitka in 1804, which was the last major armed conflict between Europeans and the Native Americans living in Alaska. The Russians (who at that time owned Alaska) attacked the Tlingit in response to a massacre at a Russian fort two years earlier. The Indians were eventually defeated. The battlefield has been preserved as Sitka National Historical Park.
- Between 1836 and 1840 approximately one half of the Tlingit people were killed by diseases introduced by the Europeans including smallpox, and influenza.
- The Tlingit people were very spiritual and believed their Shamans had magical powers to do such things as cure disease, foresee the future, and control the weather. Many of the peoples confidence in the spiritual powers of the Shamans faded as the Shamans were unable to stop the devastating effects of the diseases, such smallpox, introduced by the European settlers. This persuaded many of them to convert to Orthodox Christianity.