Good morning, we are wrapping up September pretty soon and we will be continuing with the Nations at War series. Then I will do a fall edition of 31 Days of Time Team for October. In the first half, it is the 18th Century and the seas are going to be a battlefield for commerce and trade. The second half of the episode turns to Russia’s efforts to colonize North America. The Tlingit people stood in their way.
A tiny corner of the Pacific Northwest became a focal point for a crisis that threatened to plunge the world into war. The Spanish and the British are circling each other and the waters they are fighting over are off present-day Vancouver Island. The Island is inhabited by the Checklesaht people who were part of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation. The people were ruled by a hereditary monarchy and were divided into three classes: the rulers, the commoners, and the slaves. They hunted whales and braved the surges of the Pacific. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation were people who knew the waters well.
Hunting whales were both practical and spiritual. The chiefs had to learn the spiritual side of whaling hunting. Nuu-Chah-Nulth Warriors would kill the whales with a bone-tipped spear. The Pacific Northwest warriors were a strong and brave lot. One whale could feed their community for days. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth people used every part of the whale and the bones could be made into strong clubs.
The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation also fought with other nations. The raiding cultures to the north were a great threat to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation. Every year raiding tribes from the north would send their warriors south. Eventually, vessels from Russia, Britain, Spain, and America would explore the Pacific Coast. These nations looked to put their stamp on the Pacific Northwest. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation would become players on the international stage when the Spanish laid anchor off the coast. Earlier they had welcomed Captain Cook of the British.
The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation eventually became trade partners. Otter fur trade started. However, when one man claimed her purchased land from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation, the Spanish would not take these claims lying down. The Spanish built a fort and started attacking British ships. The British would not take these threats lying down either. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation played the middleman during these times and carefully negotiated with both parties in hopes of encouraging peace. Eventually, the British and Spanish would agree to share the waters off of Vancouver Island and would not establish permanent colonies. However, despite the best efforts of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation, changes would come to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Nation. What sort of changes was coming? Who would rise to challenge the British and Spanish hold on the region? Tune into this episode to find out more.
Tlingit lived on the Alaska coast. Their territory stretched along the mountains of the Pacific. They also had networks of rivers which they would use as highways for trade. They had dugout canoes and could handle large loads. They traded from the Gulf of Alaska down the Puget Sound. The Tlingit people became powerful and wealthy and with this power came enemies. The Haida people raiders went after the Tlingit people. The Haida were a nation on a rise and would fight the Tlingit people for their land. Who would emerge victorious from this war?
After the war, a new threat emerged for the Tlingit people: Russia. The fur trade caused Russians to start exploring. The Russian traders fought their way east and by the middle of the 18th Century, they arrived in Alaska. They discovered fur and brought them back. So how would the Tlingit people handle these new arrivals? Tune into this episode to find out.
The build-up in the second episode was slow but it was well worth learning about the Russian colonies in North America. The second episode should be shown in an American history class and a World History class. You can skip the first episode.
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