Clan helps search for site of last stand against Russians (Alaska)

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SITKA -- Signs of struggle lie buried under a grassy opening in a mist-shrouded forest of hemlock and spruce.

Archaeologists at the Sitka National Historical Park recently unearthed musket shot and cannonballs in this quiet glade where they believe a clan of Tlingit Indians, called the Kiks. Dadi, built a wooden palisade fort and held off Russian attackers for six days in October 1804 until their ammunition was spent.

On the sixth night, the story goes, the Russians on the gunboat Neva heard a mournful ceremonial song rising from the fort. By morning, some 800 women, children, elders and warriors were gone, bound for the far side of their island home and to an island beyond.

The strategic retreat from the land they had held for generations marked the end of open Tlingit resistance to the Russians and ushered in what history books describe as the Russian America period in Alaska.

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