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Kaach.adi History

Photo borrowed from Anchorage Museum of History and Art - Alaska Digital Archives. Group of native men, women, and children sitting in front of totem poles in Xixch'i Hít (Frog House) of the Kaach.ádi clan of the Shtax’heen Kwaan (Wrangell People). The Xixch'I Gaas' (Frog House Posts) are still in Wrangell.


The Kaach.adi is another important Raven clan in Wrangell that bears the frog as a crest. They apparently migrated to Wrangell long ago from the village of Kake as per the origin story below. While it is often against traditional Tlingit custom for two clans in the same region to bear the same crest (click here to read about a related conflict), the Kiks.adi and Kaach.adi of the Stikine appear to have lived in peace. Even today members of both clans consider themselves close to one another, due in part to their sharing of the frog. 

Jennie Thomas, a Kaach.adi of Wrangell born at Klukwan, informed Olson (1967) that her clan was derived from the town of Kake on Kupreanof Island (Olson 1967). The clan legend of their origin at this place as told by Olson (1967) is as follows:

At the time of the flood their ancestors climbed the mountain called Tax on Baranof Island. When the waters receded, they settled in Pybus Bay (Katc) on the southern end of Admiralty Island. There they lived a long time. Another clan called the Sakatla'di, from Baranof Island, joined them and eventually merged with the Katcadi.

A chief named Adjr't, of the Nanyaayih clan of the Stikinekwan, came to Katc (Pybus Bay) and married a girl of the Katcadi clan. This chief owned a fishing camp up the Stikine at TAtcatr"n (Six Mile Creek) below Telegraph Creek. When they were there one summer the chief's daughter went one day with other girls to pick berries.

But the others returned without her; she had disappeared. At this time the Stikine did not know that the Tahltan (Gunana) had a village at Tahltan. The Tahltan had captured her. The girl's people searched for her, but in vain.

One day Chief Adjit scolded one of his slaves (named Dzus) and the latter took his bow and arrows and ran away. He traveled up-river and finally came to the edge of a canyon and saw a village below. He went down to the village and was made welcome. But he was wearing stinking clothes of sealskin. The people bathed him and gave him new clothes. At the village the chief’s daughter recognized him. She told her captors, "That is my father's servant." (She used the word kokena, servant, not the word for slave, gux.)

The slave had his bow and arrows and the Gunana marveled at them, for at that time they had none. They wanted his and gave him furs piled as high as the bow in exchange. Then they sent him home. His master freed him [because of the furs he brought?]. The Gunana composed a song about the slave which ran, "What is that which smells so strong?" (referring to his filthy costume). This is sung by the Wolf clans of the Stikinekwan.

The girl remained with the Tahltan and became the ancestress of the Katcadi clan among them. This is how it is that Katcadi are found at Kake, Wrangell, and among the Tahltan. But when the Kiksadi tell this story they say, "It was a Kiksadi named Djus who discovered the Tahltan Gunana." But they do not mention that Djus was a slave.” (Olson 1967)

Regarding claimed territories in the region of the Shtax’heen Kwaan, Thomas Ukas in 1946 notes (Goldschmidt et al. 1998):

The Andrew Creek, which flows into the Stikine River, belonged to the Kaach.adi people. Here, they dried fish and hunted bear in the fall. They also gathered high-bush cranberries.

An old Kaach.adi man named Kahsheets stayed at Totem Bay. He had a camp on a big creek. Now, there is a fox farm there.

William Paul Senior also commented (Goldschmidt et al. 1998):

Back of Wrangell, the Katc-uddy [Kaach.adi] owned the Crittendon Creek country and not the area you have marked as theirs. That area, now known as Mill Creek, was the town site of the Kiks.uddy [Kiks.adi] and the Ti-hit-tan [Teeyhittaan].

Willis Hoagland, also an informant for Goldschmidt et al. (1998) offered:

Shake’s Place, on the Stikine River, was owned by the Naanyaa.aayi. Here they dried sockeye and gathered nagoonberries. From this place up the Stikine River was controlled by the Kaach.adi, all the way up to Tahltan. They used this area for hunting and fishing, and also for trading with the Interior Indians. The line between the Tlingit and the Interior people was further up the river than the present Canadian border.

Mill Creek is the place where the first village of the Stikine people was located. Before that time they were scattered in small villages all over, and this was the first winter village for the Kiks.adi and the Kaach.adi. There were still houses there in my time.

At Anan Creek, there was a big village which was owned by the Kaach.adi and Kiks.adi.

Santa Anna Inlet is owned by the Kaach.adi. It is a big coho stream, but there are also sockeye and humpies. There has been a cannery in there for a while. It used the same site as the Native village on account of the water. Now we troll there. I was there in the spring of 1945.

There was a smokehouse at Cooney Cove [Etolin Island] which belonged to the Kaach.adi people, but there Is nothing there now, because the cannery people have claimed this area. We use to go there to hunt seal, and up the inlets for salmon.

There was a camp at Lake Bay, where the cannery is now. It was claimed by two clans – Kiks.adi and Kaach.adi. Up the lakes, there were beaver hunting grounds, and people got salmon and cohos there. ”

 These accounts were compiled by a variety of sources including the following:

Goldschmidt W, Haas T, Thornton T. 1998a. Haa aaní: Univ of Washington Pr.

Olson R. 1967. Social structure and social life of the Tlingit in Alaska: University of California Press.


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