March 7, 2017

A Russian American Photographer in Tlingit Country: Vincent by Sergei Kan

By Sergei Kan

This booklet is a wealthy checklist of existence in small-town southeastern Alaska within the past due 1800s and early 1900s. it's the first ebook to exhibit the images of Vincent Soboleff, an beginner Russian American photographer whose group incorporated Tlingit Indians from a close-by village in addition to Russian american citizens, so-called Creoles, who labored in an area fertilizer manufacturing facility. utilizing a Kodak digicam, Soboleff, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, documented the lifetime of this multiethnic parish at paintings and at play till 1920. regardless of their importance, few of Soboleff’s photos were released for the reason that their discovery in 1950. Anthropologist Sergei Kan rectifies that oversight in A Russian American Photographer in Tlingit Country, which brings jointly greater than a hundred of Soboleff’s extraordinary black-and-white images.

Combining Soboleff’s photos with ethnographic fieldwork and archival study, Kan brings to existence the groups of Killisnoo, the place Soboleff grew up, and Angoon, the Tlingit village. the images collected the following depict Russian Creoles, Euro-Americans, the operation of the Killisnoo manufacturing facility, and the everyday life of its staff. yet Soboleff’s paintings is mainly invaluable as a checklist of Tlingit lifestyles. As a member of this multiethnic neighborhood, he was once in a position to take strangely own pictures of individuals and way of life. Soboleff’s photos supply candid and intimate glimpses into Tlingit people’s then-new financial goals resembling advertisement fishing, promoting berries, and making “Indian curios” to promote to travelers. different photos express white, Creole, and local manufacturing facility employees rubbing shoulders whereas protecting a definite distance in the course of relaxation time.

Kan bargains readers, historians, and images enthusiasts a stunning visible source on Tlingit and Russian American lifestyles that exhibits how the 2 cultures intertwined in southeastern Alaska on the flip of the prior century.

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Additional info for A Russian American Photographer in Tlingit Country: Vincent Soboleff in Alaska (The Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West, Volume 10)

Sample text

Baker coming to Killisnoo with his produce. He finds ready market at the store and boarding house for peas, onions, beets, carrots and potatoes; all as ranch: he has about 30 acres under good cultivation. When he located there, he found a portion of this tract flooded at high tides. He reclaimed this tideland by building a dike across a narrow neck through which the water entered. The rest, containing about 30 acres more, is used for pasture. Potatoes are his chief crop. They are as fine as any I ever saw in the states.

39 On April 4, 1951, another large fire destroyed the remaining buildings, including the company caretaker’s house. Today a few non-Native families still live on the island, either during the summer or year-round, and a local non-Native businessman operates an upscale fishing lodge. The only remaining evidence of the once thriving Tlingit community and busy factory are an old rundown cemetery and a few rusty pieces of equipment here and there. With the factory and village long gone, any information that can be extracted from the Soboleff photographs is valuable, especially since neither written sources nor consultants tell us much about the life of the Tlingit, Creole, and Euro-American communities on Killisnoo.

Chudnovskii had learned another lesson about missionizing the Tlingits—the need to offer them generous material rewards. He had been trying for some time to attract a particular group of headmen to Orthodoxy, but they were stalling, saying that they would join the church only if they were given Russian military uniforms, sabers, and so forth. The priest did not have such regalia but was able to present them with small icons on ribbons, which could be worn around the neck. According to Chudnovskii, these Russian “crests” satisfied the men and immediately raised their status in the Native community.

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