The Apostle of Alaska
The Story of William Duncan of Metlakahtla
JOHN W. ARCTANDER, LL. D.
of the Minneapolis Bar
New York Chicago Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh
Copyright, 1909, by FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY
WHILE touring in Southeastern Alaska, in
1903, I first heard of the remarkable story of
When, in the following summer, the call of the Northland came upon me again, I hied myself to the beautiful
village, to investigate what sounded like a veritable fairy
I was cordially received and entertained by Mr.
William Duncan, and spent a most pleasant summer with him
and his people.
It was then I conceived the idea of becoming the historian of this interesting little nation, and the biographer
of their wonderful leader.
With this object in view, I have ever since spent all my vacation months in
the little village, and, during the summer just past (1908), I wrote this book
under the inspiring sky of Metlakahtla.
During these summer months I have had the unspeakable pleasure, day after day, to listen to the interesting
table-talks of Mr. Duncan, to witness him in his own in-
imitable dramatic style unrolling word-painting after
word-painting of the many interesting incidents of his
life-work and thrilling experiences.
After each one of these interesting talks, I made it a
point to write down his narrative, as nearly as possible
in the identical language used by him, while everything
he had said was still fresh in my memory.
In the following pages, I have faithfully reproduced
these, hit stories, from my note-book. It is Mr. Duncan who speaks all
through them. It is he himself who repeats the very words of the action sought to be depicted.
In these pages every one who knows Mr. Duncan will
see him as he is, and moves and breathes, will hear his
voice, will recognize his virility. That is the merit of
the book, if it has any. I am merely a reporter, not an
It is a matter of pride with me that I have made an entirely truthful report, and not colored it in any form,
shape, or manner.
The occasion I have had to draw from the inexhaustible
treasure-chests of the diaries of Mr. Duncan, to examine
his correspondence and his books, as well as the public
records of the colony, and all documents in any way
bearing upon any incident, has of course been very valuable in enabling me to give to the reader the true history
of the mission.
The opportunity I have had, through these many
moons, to study the Indians, their peculiarities, their
customs and manners, past and present, to listen to their
tales of past history and life, and to their interesting
legends, I have of course fully availed myself of.
Upon the subject of the contention between Bishop
Ridley and the Church Missionary Society and its representatives on the one side, and Mr. Duncan and his
people on the other, I have attempted to be fair, and to
give credit where credit was due. But I willingly con-
fess that the intense feeling of Mr. Duncan on the subject
may, unconsciously, have colored the glasses through
which I myself have observed this regrettable series of
Still, I insist, that I have carefully examined all documents bearing upon this untoward strife, that I have
diligently perused all that has been written on the
subject, on both sides, and that, after weighing judiciously
what has been charged and countercharged, I can hon
estly state it as my firm conviction that there is, in truth
and justice, but one side to the case.
Mr. Duncan may have his faults : most of us have.
He has, however, fewer than any man I ever met. I
have not sought to accentuate them ; neither have I at
tempted to hide them. They have been allowed to crop
out in the history of his life, without let or hindrance.
He has kindly permitted me to use, for the illustrations
of this book, a number of photographs taken by him, and
of which the copies lent me for such purpose are probably
now the only ones in existence. For this great kindness
I thank him.
Mr. Benjamin A. Haldane, the native photographer at
Metlakahtla, Mr. P. E. Fisher, of Seattle, and Mr. E. A.
Hegg, of Cordova, Alaska, have put me under lasting
obligation by allowing me to make use, for the same purpose, of many photos taken by each of them.
I cheerfully acknowledge my gratitude to Mr. James Wallace, who, with great
patience, during the long winter nights of the past five years, has drawn from some of
the older natives, and faithfully recorded for my use,
numerous legends of the Tsimsheans. By his painstaking care, I have been enabled to cull from a most bounteous supply of fifty or sixty legends, some fifteen, none
of which has ever before appeared in print.
Jno. "W. Arctander"
(of the original book)
||The Call of the Lord
||The Boy the Father of the Man
||" Speak Lord, Thy Servant Heareth "
||A New Mission Field
||Aboard the Man-of-War
||The Inside Passage
||At the Fort
||Mode of Living
||The Totems and Clubs
||The Religion of the Tsimsheans
||The Son of the Heavenly Chief
||Traimshum, the Tsimshean Devil
||Behind the Walls
||The First Message
||The Devil Abroad
||A Christian Village
||Onward and Upward
||How Mr. Duncan Became a Judge
||From Judge Duncan's Docket
||Back in Old England
||The Last Blow
||The New Home
||A Day at Metlakahtla
||Leaves from Mr. Duncan's Diary
||Some Metlakahtla History
||Flotsam and Jetsam
||The Metlakahtla Industries
||The " Christian Church "
||The Grand Old Man
Illustrations have been removed.