Metlakatla Indian Community

Mailing Address

P.O. Box 8
Metlakatla, AK 99926

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Metlakatlas originated in the Birtish Columbia and Canada. It was in the year 1887 when the first group of the eight hundred twenty six Tsimshian people decided to migrate to their new residence, Alaska, aboard ocean-going canoes. Mr. William Duncan was the man who is most responsible of the sudden move of the Tsimshians to Alaska. This man, then, is now more popularly known as the “Father Duncan”. The affectionate and grateful Tsimshians people were the ones who gave him the title in gratitude to his actions. He was a lay missionary in the Church of England. The specific mission that was given to him was to have the Tsimshians baptized into Christianity. These were the people who used to live in British Columbia. The Church of England sent him to the mission because he was known to be a spiritual yet convincing person. He is one of the most renowned persons in the history of the Metlakatla Indian Community. Without him, the tribe would not have come across the United States. 

The move to the “Old Metlakatla” meant that the hostilities between Father Duncan and the Church to be at its worst. Father Duncan soon sought for help from the United States government and he then met President Grover Cleveland in Washington. The president then prearranged the contract that would allow the indigenous people to settle in the area. He did this along with the preparation of the land to be occupied. Because of the Father Duncan and the President, the tribe was granted the rights to settle down in the area in Alaska which became their new home. It was then Mr. Duncan who pushed through with the efforts and plans for the community. He held the highest position in managing the welfare of the tribe. On the 7th of August, in 1887, the birth of the “New Metlakatla” was proclaimed thus formally giving the rights to the natives. Up to now, the proclamation is still widely celebrated in their community as the “Founder’s Day”. Father Duncan served as the mayor, architect and spiritual leader of the tribe. Without him, the tribe would have never succeeded. He served the tribe until his death in 1918. After his death, the Metlakatla recognized new leaders known as the Tribal Council governed by twelve tribal members who were elected by the community. The Tribal Council then took over the management of the community, its economic development and social affairs.

The newly formed community was given the full authority in the year 1891 and the Annette Islands Reserve was established. It is, until today, the only reservation area in the State of Alaska. Majority of the population is Tsimshian, while there are still others who as either half or has Tlingit, Haida, Aelut or Yupik blood. Together, they form the community of diverse talents. In the community is another community, where family clans are predominant. These clans are the Eagle, also known as the Lachsgeek, the Rave or the Gunhada, Wold or Lachgeebuur and the Killer Whale or the Gishbuutwada. Thhey are engaged in business enterprises, from purified water to aggregate products to packing of specialty Alaskan seafood.

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