You’re Going To Hear About This: Frank Johnson, Louis Shotridge, and Civil Rights

A great piece by good friend, Ishmael Hope. It really opens a window into the world the Tlingit leaders during the time of our civil rights movement. Of particular interest to me is an explanation of what was going on in the Tlingit world during the time that our at.óow and other clan possessions were being sold or given away. To me, this highly transitional era marks a major counter attack by the Tlingit people against anti-Native sentiments and actions. Boycotts of businesses and passage of legislation were the weapons of those days.

Today we are faced with a different fight. At face value, we have civil rights. But we still have a State and Federal government that is selling out our traditional resources and lands from underneath us. These days we have giveaway mining claims to multinational corporations that will pollute our salmon runs, or permit-squatting electric companies buying up hydro-electric rights in our streams for pennies on the dollar for what they’re worth (more on this later!) We have a dying language (heroically being revived,) and we pay subsistence permit fees to fish the very waters our ancestors have fished and managed for hundreds if not thousands of years. What will the counter attack of this generation be?

Ishmael Hope
Alaska Native Storyteller

Frank Johnson and Louis Shotridge were two of the most important leaders of the Alaska Native Brotherhood’s civil rights movement, and in late 1930 and early 1931 provided one of the earliest documented confrontations with a business that shut Natives out of their services. This is an extremely overlooked part of the history, largely because of the low-key nature of the leaders, and perhaps they didn’t live long enough to tell their stories to a media who finally began to show interest in Native culture and leadership in the latter parts of the 20th Century. It’s about time we get to know this story.

Frank Johnson’s Tlingit name was Taakw K’wát’i of the Sukhteeneidí. He was born in Shakan, and served in the Alaska State Legislature when Alaska was a territory. Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich are well known for their fights for the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945. Frank Johnson and Andrew Hope were serving in the Alaska State House of the Territorial Legislature, and they helped to pass the bill.

Read the rest at Alaska Native Storyteller


About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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