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The Apostle of Alaska
The Story of William Duncan of Metlakahtla




of the Minneapolis Bar



New York Chicago Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1909, by FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

Second Edition



WHILE touring in Southeastern Alaska, in 1903, I first heard of the remarkable story of Metlakahtla.

When, in the following summer, the call of the Northland came upon me again, I hied myself to the beautiful village, to investigate what sounded like a veritable fairy tale.

I was cordially received and entertained by Mr. William Duncan, and spent a most pleasant summer with him and his people.

It was then I conceived the idea of becoming the historian of this interesting little nation, and the biographer of their wonderful leader.

With this object in view, I have ever since spent all my vacation months in the little village, and, during the summer just past (1908), I wrote this book under the inspiring sky of Metlakahtla.

During these summer months I have had the unspeakable pleasure, day after day, to listen to the interesting table-talks of Mr. Duncan, to witness him in his own in- imitable dramatic style unrolling word-painting after word-painting of the many interesting incidents of his life-work and thrilling experiences.

After each one of these interesting talks, I made it a point to write down his narrative, as nearly as possible in the identical language used by him, while everything he had said was still fresh in my memory.

In the following pages, I have faithfully reproduced



these, hit stories, from my note-book. It is Mr. Duncan who speaks all through them. It is he himself who repeats the very words of the action sought to be depicted.

In these pages every one who knows Mr. Duncan will see him as he is, and moves and breathes, will hear his voice, will recognize his virility. That is the merit of the book, if it has any. I am merely a reporter, not an author.

It is a matter of pride with me that I have made an entirely truthful report, and not colored it in any form, shape, or manner.

The occasion I have had to draw from the inexhaustible treasure-chests of the diaries of Mr. Duncan, to examine his correspondence and his books, as well as the public records of the colony, and all documents in any way bearing upon any incident, has of course been very valuable in enabling me to give to the reader the true history of the mission.

The opportunity I have had, through these many moons, to study the Indians, their peculiarities, their customs and manners, past and present, to listen to their tales of past history and life, and to their interesting legends, I have of course fully availed myself of.

Upon the subject of the contention between Bishop Ridley and the Church Missionary Society and its representatives on the one side, and Mr. Duncan and his people on the other, I have attempted to be fair, and to give credit where credit was due. But I willingly con- fess that the intense feeling of Mr. Duncan on the subject may, unconsciously, have colored the glasses through which I myself have observed this regrettable series of incidents.

Still, I insist, that I have carefully examined all documents bearing upon this untoward strife, that I have diligently perused all that has been written on the



subject, on both sides, and that, after weighing judiciously what has been charged and countercharged, I can hon estly state it as my firm conviction that there is, in truth and justice, but one side to the case.

Mr. Duncan may have his faults : most of us have. He has, however, fewer than any man I ever met. I have not sought to accentuate them ; neither have I at tempted to hide them. They have been allowed to crop out in the history of his life, without let or hindrance.

He has kindly permitted me to use, for the illustrations of this book, a number of photographs taken by him, and of which the copies lent me for such purpose are probably now the only ones in existence. For this great kindness I thank him.

Mr. Benjamin A. Haldane, the native photographer at Metlakahtla, Mr. P. E. Fisher, of Seattle, and Mr. E. A. Hegg, of Cordova, Alaska, have put me under lasting obligation by allowing me to make use, for the same purpose, of many photos taken by each of them.

I cheerfully acknowledge my gratitude to Mr. James Wallace, who, with great patience, during the long winter nights of the past five years, has drawn from some of the older natives, and faithfully recorded for my use, numerous legends of the Tsimsheans. By his painstaking care, I have been enabled to cull from a most bounteous supply of fifty or sixty legends, some fifteen, none of which has ever before appeared in print.

Jno. "W. Arctander"



Table of Contents ............................ this page
  The Apostle of Alaska ..................... pages 7-376
Index 2 - William Duncan (only)  


Contents (of the original book)


Chapter Page Chapter Title
   7 Introduction
 I 15 The Call of the Lord
II 19 The Boy the Father of the Man
III 27 " Speak Lord, Thy Servant Heareth "
IV 32 A New Mission Field
V 39 Aboard the Man-of-War
VI 43 The Inside Passage
VII 51 At the Fort
VIII 61 The Tsimsheans
IX 66 Mode of Living
X 72 Peculiar Customs
XI 84 The Totems and Clubs
XII 92 The Medicine-Men
XIII 101 The Religion of the Tsimsheans
XIV 108 The Son of the Heavenly Chief
XV 116 Traimshum, the Tsimshean Devil
XVI 118 Behind the Walls
XVII 122 The First Message
XVIII 130 The Devil Abroad
XIX 137 First Fruits
XX 151 A Christian Village
XXI 157 Legaic
XXII 165 Onward and Upward
XXIII 175 Temporal Advancement
XXIV 185 Interesting Incidents
XXV 197 How Mr. Duncan Became a Judge
XXVI 202 From Judge Duncan's Docket
XXVII 217 Back in Old England
XXVIII 228 Home Again
XXIX 236 Notable Visitors
XXX 250 Troubles Brewing
XXXI 261 The Rupture
XXXII 268 The Serpent
XXXIII 279 The Last Blow
XXXIV 287 The New Home
XXXV 298 The Pioneers
XXXVI 305 A Day at Metlakahtla
XXXVII 310 Leaves from Mr. Duncan's Diary
XXXVIII 325 Some Metlakahtla History
XXXIX 333 Flotsam and Jetsam
XL 350 The Metlakahtla Industries
XLI 358 The " Christian Church "
XLII 368 The Grand Old Man
   377 Index

Illustrations have been removed.