(Mike Dunham/Anchorage Daily News, 28 December 2008) -- Authors Richard and Nora Dauenhauer of Juneau have won the 2008 American Book Award for Anóoshi Lingít Aaní Ká: Russians in Tlingit America, The Battles of Sitka 1802 and 1804, published by Sealaska Heritage Institute and the University of Washington Press this year. The award, given by the Before Columbus Foundation, was created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community. The purpose is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. More than a dozen authors this year received the award, which will be formally given today in Berkeley, Calif. The conflict between Tlingits and Russians over Sitka saw the bloodiest fighting in Alaska's recorded history until the Japanese invasion in World War II. The Russian side of the story—which may be summarized as settlement, massacre, retaliation and final defeat of the Indians—has received much ink and become to a great extent the received version. The Tlingit view of the war, extrapolated from oral histories and supporting written documentation, is understandably different, more complex and probably more credible. It's a story of invasion, resistance, betrayal, siege and a brilliantly executed strategic retreat followed by campaigns of attrition that led eventually to a long-lasting business arrangement that proved beneficial to both sides. Aspects of this version have been published before in an essay, by the late Tlingit leader Herbert Hope, for example. But the Dauenhauers' remarkable book, a collaboration with the late Russian history scholar Lydia Black, is the first full-length scholarly treatment of the battles to effectively include the Tlingit accounts.
Posted 29 December 2008; 1:03:50 PM. Permalink