Alaska Herpetological Society
The Stikine Kiks.adi (Kiksetti)
PHOTO: Joshua Ream (Xíxch'i Toowóo) with Kiks.adi elders Elizabeth Nore (Left) and Marge Byrd (Right). 2012.
Both the Kiks.adi and Kaach.adi clans of the Stikine Tlingit claim the frog as their crest. These clans of the Raven moiety have long called the Stikine River and surrounding areas home. Over the past century, cultural revitalization and preservation efforts in Wrangell have focused primarily on the once powerful Nanya ayii Clan of Chief Shakes within the Eagle Moiety. This website attempts to expand these efforts by compiling sources for an equally important Raven clan, the Kiks.adi, sometimes referred to as the "Kiksetti."
I have had the honor and privilege of working closely with the Kiks.adi during my graduate research to better understand local indigenous relationships to amphibians, but also to document an important oral history for future generations. I have made many great friends along the way, I have grown as a person and as a scientist, and I am honored to have been adopted by the clan as "Xíxch'i Toowóo" meaning "Frog Feelings" or "He who cares for (feels for) the frogs." This website is dedicated to the Kiks.adi clan and its members past, present, and future. -Joshua Ream
NOTE: in 2014 a ku.éex’ ceremony was also held to honor the passing of Teeyhíttaan clan member Richard Rinehart Sr. and Kiks.ádi members Betty Nore, Dawn Hutchinson, Rita Bradley Perez and Louise Bradley. CLICK HERE to a read an article about that important event.
Artist Patrick Mizumoto's rendition of a Kiks.adi gathering at the Mill Creek village site (Chugasan - Waterfall town). Commissioned by Joshua Ream as a gift to Kiks.adi elders and Eagle Moiety hosts during honorary adoption ceremony at the 2014 ku.éex’. Notice the Kiks.adi Pole and frog regalia in the foreground.
Interviews with Culture Bearers
The Kiks.adi Clan in Wrangell today is relatively small, though it was once among the highest caste, largest and most powerful of the raven clans in the Stikine region. Despite the relatively small number of culture bearers today, clan members are strong and determined to persist. While this clan was once made up of three house groups (Sun, Snail, and Frog), only members of the Sun House are known to remain. Please click below to learn more about five of these important culture bearers and to hear their stories.
NOTE: Three important Kiks.adi culture bearers, Richard Rinehart Jr., Henrietta (Hankie) Hoyt and Ethel Lund, were not formally interviewed as part of this study but continue to play an important role to this clan!
Photo: Nathan Jackson of the Chilkat Lukaax.adi with Marge Byrd of the Stikine Kiks.adi
THE KIKS.ADI TOTEM & SUN HOUSE
Photos by Nowell on postcards printed by Lowman & Hanford Co., Publ. Seattle, Washington.
The Kiks.adi Totem now stands in the Kiks.adi Totem Park in downtown Wrangell. This replica was carved in 1987 as part of a major restoration project by the Wrangell Cultural Heritage Committee. The park is located in front of the lot where the most recent Sun House stood, a modern dwelling depicted in the postcards above. The small round window on the house is of particular importance. As the story goes, a nephew was not liked by an uncle and decided to leave home. While he was away, he had a dream that if he were to build a house with a round opening high on the front, it would bring his family good luck*.
For more information on the totem itself, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
For more information on the Kiks.adi origin story, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Prior to the last standing Sun House pictured above, three Kiks.adi clan houses stood in this area of Wrangell. The locations of these were sketched in relation to Wrangell Harbor by George Emmons in the late 19th century:
Image borrowed from: Emmons, George Thornton. The Tlingit Indians. Vol. 70. University of Washington Press, 1991.
KIKS.ADI SHAME POLE
Photo borrowed from www.cathedralgrove.eu
For better or for worse, the Kiks.adi shame pole has become an iconic symbol in Wrangell. A replica of the pole still stands in front of Chief Shakes Tribal House and is the masthead of the local newspaper, the Wrangell Sentinel. This pole was originally erected long ago at the request of Chief Shakes of the Nanya ayii Clan to remind the Kiks.adi of an unpaid debt. As the story goes, three Kiks.adi women were once supported by Shakes after allegedly co-inhabiting with three slaves in Shakes' household. Kiks.adi leaders refused to pay this debt and the pole was erected until such time as compensation was made. The three frogs on the top of the pole represent the three Kiks.adi women.
This pole has long been controversial, perhaps since its original placement. Many members of the Kiks.adi believe that their debt has long since been paid and that the pole should be removed to reflect this. While everyone agrees that the "shame" should no longer persist, some believe that the pole now stands as merely a piece of history that tells a story and reflects past cultural norms. This was the opinion of at least one clan elder interviewed in this project, Christine Jenkins, who described the pole as a representation of a "love story" in June of 2010.