Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

State maps to change Seduction Point to 'Ayiklutu'


November 7, 2019

The Alaska Historical Commission voted unanimously last week to change the name of Seduction Point to Ayiklutu, a Tlingit word defined as “small point of a larger point.”

The Chilkoot Indian Association petitioned for the name change in early September. The tip of the Chilkat Peninsula was named “Seduction Point” by Captain George Vancouver “because of the designing nature of the Indians whom Lieutenant Joseph Whidbey encountered there on July 16, 1794,” according to the Geographic Names Information System entry.

According to local Tlingit history told by Dan Henry in his history book “Across the Shaman’s River,” the name comes from the rape of a Kaagwaantan woman by British sailors in the area.

“The name is meant to imply she seduced the soldiers,” a CIA employee said in their petition to the commission.

CIA tribal administrator Harriet Brouillette said she listened in on the meeting and when the topic came up on the agenda, she “held her breath.” She said some Kaagwaantan women wear sailor hats or regalia styled after sailor uniforms as a way of honoring the women who were abused.

“You’ll see a lot of Tlingit women still thinking about and honoring those women,” Brouillette said. “In this way, our community is honoring them as well. I just want to say thank you to the people who supported this because it means a lot.”

Those proposing a name change must demonstrate that the current place name is “derogatory to a racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group.” When considering the change, the commission also seeks support from local authorities, residents and organizations for the proposed change.

Among the supporters was Sylvia Heinz who wrote that “the naming was abusive and absolutely derogatory, and is a reminder of a shameful past.”

Stacie Evans told the commission that the community “will only benefit as we embrace opportunities to heal from the stifling nature of trauma and guilt.”

Alaska State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service also wrote in support of the name change.

Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Joan Antonson said support from Haines residents, Alaska State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service boded well for the proposal.

“Commission members thought it was a well-prepared petition and voted unanimously,” Antonson said.

Antonson said State Parks will soon update their brochures and Ayiklutu will then appear on the map. State maps will be updated when they’re printed next, a time that is unspecified.

In the meantime, the name change is headed to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. That group will consider the change. If approved, the name will appear on federal maps.

The Alaska Historical Commission is a citizen board chaired by the lieutenant governor. In 1982, the state enacted a law that urged the board to consider Alaska Native place names for geographic features that have not been named. The board is “reluctant to change existing names, but will consider doing so if the proposer demonstrates a compelling reason and if there’s local support for the change,” according to commission policy.


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