Workshops focus on local history

Shipwrecks, Tlingit culture and mining topics of separate talks

Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2001

Summer tour guides sometimes know so little about the area they're touting that they make up their spiels.

To avoid a creative approach to local history, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum is holding a series of three local history and culture workshops geared to tour operators, guides and the general public.

The workshops will be presented 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the museum, Fourth and Main streets. Preregistration is required and the fee for each session is $26.25.

"Juneau and Its Shipwrecks" on Tuesday will be presented by experienced diver John Lachelt, owner with his wife Su of the Channel Dive Shop. He will conduct a slide and video presentation on the two most famous local wrecks, the Princess Sophia (1918) and the Princess Kathleen (1952). He will also discuss the Clara Nevada, the Islander and the Princess May.

"Native Culture and Its Interpretation" will be presented Wednesday by authors and linguists Richard Dauenhauer and Nora Marks Dauenhauer, experts in Tlingit history, oratory and language. They will describe Southeast Alaska's first people and appropriate ways of interpreting the culture, including a general overview of Tlingit people living in the Juneau and Douglas area.

"We talk about the peoples of Alaska and their languages. We define moiety, clan house, exogamy (the tradition of marrying the opposite clan), matrilineal descent and inheritance," Nora Dauenhauer said. "We talk about popular English translations of Tlingit crests - wolf, brown bear, frog, etc. We also talk about the Haida and the Tsimshian who are different than we (Tlingits) are, but share the same resources and material things like blankets, totem poles, hats and style of artwork."

"The Great Mines of Juneau" will be presented Thursday by mining historians Willette Janes and David Stone, who will cover highlights of the mining era from the 1880s to 1944. Janes, author of "In a Miner's Footsteps," will discuss local mining history and lead a tour of the museum's mining collection. Stone, author of "Hard Rock Gold," will host a discussion and slide show about the heyday of Juneau's great mines.

"I go through the history of the three big mines: The Alaska Juneau, Treadwell and Thane," Stone said. "I dispel myths and tell them the truth is better than the myths. These were leading-edge technology mines that had a big influence on other mines throughout the world, and miners enjoyed a wage scale higher than any place else in the world."

All presenters will distribute fact sheets and recommend resources and reading on specific topics discussed. Refreshments will be served.

To register, call 586-3572. The museum is part of the Juneau Parks and Recreation Department.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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