Native Police Hat

This black felt hat was a part of a Native police uniform.  Navy Commander Henry Glass, who oversaw the military authority in Southeast Alaska in 1880, recognized that the Tlingit had a system of laws.  He applied Tlingit law to avoid conflicts between Natives and whites.  He also encouraged them to regulate themselves by appointing certain leaders to serve as Native police officers to enforce their laws within their village.  This hat was from a Native policeman in Sitka; it was handed down with the estate of the late Alex Andrews, former Kaagwaantaan clan leader of the Eagle Nest House of Sitka.

This is a letter of appointment that was sent to Kowa.ée by Commander Henry Glass.

Áak’w Bona Fide

Rockwell Alaska Territory
May 2nd, 1881

This paper is given to the Head Chief [Chief of Police] of the Auke Indians, “Klow-kek” [Kowa.ée] to show that he is entitled to respect from all Indians in the Auke-kwon Country. He is directed by me to keep order among the people of his tribe, to keep them from making hoo-chi-noo and to see that they keep at peace with the white men. As Klow-kek is representing me he must be obeyed by all Indians in his village. Anyone who will not obey his proper orders will be punished.

Henry Glass

Commander U.S.N.

Photo Credit: Alaska State Library, Cowee-1, Alaska State Library Photo Collection
Kowa.ée was Raven of the L’eeneidi (Dog Salmon Clan) from the G̱aataa Hit (Trap House). He was the chief of police who kept order among the people in their territory.
Fran Houston, Áak’w Kwáan Tribal Spokesperson