Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

Posted in Articles, History, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2021-10-17 03:10Z by Steven

Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The Washington Post

Mark Pratt, Reporter/Editor
The Associated Press

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP) (Uncredited/U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office)

BOSTON — The wreck of a storied military ship that served in two World Wars, performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades, and at one point was captained by the first Black man to command a U.S. government vessel has been found, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

A wreck thought to be the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, which sank in 1963 about 260 miles east of Boston as it was being towed to Philadelphia, where it was going to be converted into a floating restaurant, was located in 2019.

But it was only in August that a team of experts looking at the evidence came to the conclusion that they are “reasonably certain” that the wreck is indeed the Bear, officials of the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said at a waterfront news conference in Boston.

“At the time of the loss of Bear, it was already recognized as a historic ship,” said Joe Hoyt, of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

…Thursday’s announcement coincided with the arrival in Boston of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, named after the Bear’s captain from 1886 until 1895, Michael “Hell Roaring Mike” Healy.

The Healy, an icebreaker commissioned in 1999, recently completed a transit of the Arctic Northwest Passage.

Healy, born in 1839, was the son of a Georgia plantation owner and a slave. Healy’s father sent him to Massachusetts to escape enslavement, [William] Thiesen said.

He likened the Healy — commissioned by Abraham Lincoln a month before the president’s assassination — to an Old West sheriff, whose jurisdiction was an area the size of the lower 48 states.

“While he never, during his lifetime, self-identified as African American, perhaps to avoid the prejudice he would likely have encountered in his personal life and career, he was in reality the first person of African American descent to command a ship of the U.S. Government,” a NOAA news release said…

Read the entire article here.

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Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle

Posted in History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, United States on 2018-04-01 02:53Z by Steven

Alaska’s Unique Civil Rights Struggle


Matthew Wills

Native Alaskan woman and child, 1929.
via Wikimedia Commons

A generation before the Civil Rights movement gained national attention, the struggle against Jim Crow was being fought…in Alaska. And women were at the forefront of the struggle.

Modern Alaskans, writes historian Terrence M. Cole, are “surprised and shocked to learn that racial segregation and Jim Crow policies towards Alaska natives were standard practice throughout much of Alaska” until the mid-1940s. Stores, bars, and restaurants posted “No Natives Allowed.” Movie theaters had “For Natives Only” seating. (Nome’s theater’s balcony was segregated for natives, commonly called “Eskimos,” and designated “Nigger Heaven” by whites.) And, by law and custom, Alaskans attended segregated schools…

…In the midst of the legislative battle over the equal rights bill, Alberta Schenck, a seventeen-year old with a white father and a native mother, was arrested for sitting in the “whites only” section of Nome’s movie theater in March 1944. (This was eleven years before Rosa Parks’s famous refusal to sit in the back of a Montgomery bus.) The furor over the incident galvanized support for Gruening’s bill after an earlier version had been stopped by an 8-8 vote in the Alaska House. The unprecedented election of two Tlingit legislators in late 1944 helped as well…

Read the entire article here.

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We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet: Letters to My Filipino-Athabascan Family

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Social Justice, United States on 2018-03-05 01:37Z by Steven

We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet: Letters to My Filipino-Athabascan Family

State University of New York Press
February 2018
200 pages
Paperback ISBN13: 978-1-4384-6952-2

E. J. R. David, Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Alaska, Anchorage

A father’s personal and intimate account of his Filipino and Alaska Native family’s experiences, and his search for how to help his children overcome the effects of historical and contemporary oppression.

In a series of letters to his mixed-race Koyukon Athabascan family, E. J. R. David shares his struggles, insecurities, and anxieties as a Filipino American immigrant man, husband, and father living in the lands dominated by his family’s colonizer. The result is We Have Not Stopped Trembling Yet, a deeply personal and heartfelt exploration of the intersections and widespread social, psychological, and health implications of colonialism, immigration, racism, sexism, intergenerational trauma, and internalized oppression. Weaving together his lived realities, his family’s experiences, and empirical data, David reflects on a difficult journey, touching upon the importance of developing critical and painful consciousness, as well as the need for connectedness, strength, freedom, and love, in our personal and collective efforts to heal from the injuries of historical and contemporary oppression. The persecution of two marginalized communities is brought to the forefront in this book. Their histories underscore and reveal how historical and contemporary oppression has very real and tangible impacts on Peoples across time and generations.

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Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-01-27 15:18Z by Steven

Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy: From American Slave to Arctic Hero

University Press of Florida
352 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3368-6
Paper ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-5485-8

Dennis L. Noble, Senior Chief Petty Officer (Retired)
United States Coast Guard

Truman R. Strobridge

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene Allen Smith, Series Editors

One of the Coast Guard’s great heroes and the secret he kept hidden

In the late 1880s, many lives in northern and western maritime Alaska rested in the capable hands of Michael A. Healy (1839-1904), through his service to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. Healy arrested lawbreakers, put down mutinies aboard merchant ships, fought the smuggling of illegal liquor and firearms, rescued shipwrecked sailors from a harsh and unforgiving environment, brought medical aid to isolated villages, prevented the wholesale slaughter of marine wildlife, and explored unknown waters and lands.

Captain Healy’s dramatic feats in the far north were so widely reported that a New York newspaper once declared him the “most famous man in America.” But Healy hid a secret that contributed to his legacy as a lonely, tragic figure.

In 1896, Healy was brought to trial on charges ranging from conduct unbecoming an officer to endangerment of his vessel for reason of intoxication. As punishment, he was put ashore on half pay with no command and dropped to the bottom of the Captain’s list. Eventually, he again rose to his former high position in the service by the time of his death in 1904. Sixty-seven years later, in 1971, the U.S. Coast Guard learned that Healy was born a slave in Georgia who ran away to sea at age fifteen and spent the rest of his life passing for white.

This is the rare biography that encompasses both sea adventure and the height of human achievement against all odds.

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A stone for the Chief: Black Anchorage leader who passed as white honored with memorial

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-12-01 20:23Z by Steven

A stone for the Chief: Black Anchorage leader who passed as white honored with memorial

Alaska Dispatch News
Anchorage, Alaska

Mike Dunham, Play & Arts & Entertainment Reporter

From left, Corey Todoroff, Jim Vignola and Lex Patten of the Anchorage Fire Department unveil a new grave marker for longtime Anchorage Fire Chief Thomas Bevers, who passed away in 1944, during a ceremony at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Bevers was also notable for co-founding what would become the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous festival, and for being a black man who passed as white.
Loren Holmes / ADN

The 1930 Anchorage census tells us this about Thomas S. Bevers: He was 39 years old, male, married, white, a veteran of the World War and the city’s fire chief.

But his final resting place was unmarked until Thursday, when an honor guard from the Anchorage Fire Department unveiled a headstone for him at a ceremony in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

As his job title suggests, Bevers was more important than the average roustabout hoping to strike it rich — or maybe just get by — in the far-off territory of Alaska. He arrived in Anchorage in 1921 and served as a volunteer fireman. The ladder wagons were pulled by horses and the pumps were worked by hand.

By 1930, he was in the front ranks of city leaders, a man of property, a landlord, a partner in a major fur farm on 10th Avenue. He became involved with civic causes that included building a new hospital and Merrill Field. His ongoing business ventures ranged from establishing the Fairview neighborhood (originally Bevers Subdivision) to part-ownership of the Buffalo Mine near Chickaloon.

He was a member of the Anchorage Boosters Club who loved to give visitors tours of Anchorage while extolling its possibilities. Most famously, he co-founded the Fur Rendezvous winter festival.

Anchorage Fire Department Chief Thomas Bevers in the 1930s
Courtesy Anchorage Fire Department

In 1922 Bevers became the first paid fireman in the city. He retired from the position of chief in 1940 and ran for city council in 1941, winning the office with 772 votes.

In October 1944, during a duck hunting trip on the north side of Knik Arm, he went to bed and quietly died of a heart attack. An editorial in the Anchorage Times lamented, “Anchorage (has) lost one of its best friends and leaders.”

He had no immediate family in the territory. The 1940 census listed him as single. Officials summoned a sister in Virginia to come and claim the body.

Upon her arrival, his friends and business partners did a double take…

Read the entire article here.

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New book details racism faced by black soldiers who helped build Alaska Highway

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2013-08-05 02:47Z by Steven

New book details racism faced by black soldiers who helped build Alaska Highway

Edmonton Journal
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Chris Zdeb

EDMONTON – Author John Virtue admits he knew “absolutely nothing” about The Black Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway, which is also the title of his latest book, before he started researching the topic six years ago.

He was inspired to write the story at the suggestion of Monte Irvin, a former New York Giant and a member of the baseball Hall of Fame, who Virtue met while writing a book about the role of the Mexican League in desegregating American baseball.

Virtue had never heard about the black soldiers who worked on the highway, even though he was raised in Edmonton, the staging area for the project.

You’d think it would be hard to miss 5,000 black troops, almost half of the 11,000 American soldiers who spent 18 months working on two of the biggest construction projects of the Second World War

…The black soldiers should have been especially newsworthy, since they were the first African-American troops to be deployed outside of the U.S. mainland during the Second World War.

“The main reason why the contributions of the black soldiers was ignored during the war,” the former journalist says from his Miami Beach home, “is because of the power of congressmen from the southern states, who thought that anything that glorified the contributions of the blacks would cause problems back home. They might agitate for improvement of their conditions once the war was over and they were back home.”…

…There was immediate opposition from Brig.-Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., commander in charge of the defence of Alaska, to black soldiers being sent to the far north. On receiving a letter from Brig.-Gen. Clarence L. Sturdevant, assistant of the Corps of Engineers, informing him that two black regiments would be sent to the Yukon and Alaska to help with the highway, Buckner minced no words in his reply.

“I have no objections whatever to your employing them on the roads if they are kept far enough away from the settlements and kept busy and sent home as soon as possible,” wrote Buckner, a southern aristocrat raised in rural Kentucky.

“The very high wages offered to unskilled labour here would attract a large number of them and cause them to remain and settle after the war, with the natural result that they could interbreed with the Indian and Eskimos and produce an astonishingly objectionable race of mongrels which could be a problem from now on.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Black Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway: A History of Four U.S. Army Regiments in the North, 1942-1943

Posted in Books, History, Monographs, United States on 2013-08-04 19:03Z by Steven

The Black Soldiers Who Built the Alaska Highway: A History of Four U.S. Army Regiments in the North, 1942-1943

228 pages
39 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Softcover (7 x 10)
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-7117-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-0039-0

John Virtue, Director
International Media Center at Florida International University

This is the first detailed account of the 5,000 black troops who were reluctantly sent north by the United States Army during World War II to help build the Alaska Highway and install the companion Canol pipeline. Theirs were the first black regiments deployed outside the lower 48 states during the war. The enlisted men, most of them from the South, faced racial discrimination from white officers, were barred from entering any towns for fear they would procreate a “mongrel” race with local women, and endured winter conditions they had never experienced before. Despite this, they won praise for their dedication and their work. Congress in 2005 said that the wartime service of the four regiments covered here contributed to the eventual desegregation of the Armed Forces.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Monte Irvin
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • 1. Pondering a Pathway to Alaska
  • 2. Highway and Pipeline Approved
  • 3. The Second Emancipation Order
  • 4. Blacks Rush to Enlist
  • 5. Black Soldiers Voice Their Complaints
  • 6. Army Reluctantly Assigns Black Regiments
  • 7. Heading North
  • 8. Japanese Attack Justifies the Alcan Highway
  • 9. The 93rd and the 95th Start Off with Picks and Shovels
  • 10. The 97th Completes the Highway
  • 11. The 388th Does the Heavy Lifting
  • 12. An Unexpectedly Severe Winter
  • 13. Surviving Isolation
  • 14. The Highway Is Praised, the Pipeline Criticized
  • 15. Identifying Problems
  • 16. News Coverage of Black Troops Suppressed
  • Epilogue
  • Chapter Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America [Patricia Cleary Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2013-04-01 00:26Z by Steven

Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America [Patricia Cleary Review]

William and Mary Quarterly
Third Series, Volume 69, Number 3, July 2012
pages 665-667
DOI: 10.5309/willmaryquar.69.3.0665

Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America. By Gwenn A. Miller. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2010. 242 pages.

Patricia Cleary, Professor of History
California State University, Long Beach

In a period of imperial expansion in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Russia founded only one overseas colony, in several sites off the Alaskan coast. On Kodiak Island, the focus of Gwenn A. Miller’s study, the Russian American Company pursued the fur trade and sought the support of church and state for its efforts. In the process, the company’s agents disrupted the lives of the indigenous Alutiiq people, not least through forming relationships with local women and creating an ethnically mixed Kreol population. In her exploration of this North Pacific outpost, Miller focuses on how these initially tenuous and later increasingly formalized relationships laid the basis for a distinctive category and community of people within the Russian empire.

Drawing on slim and occasionally challenging sources, Miller traces Russian colonial expansion, examining how conquest and the exaction of tribute from subjugated peoples in Siberia facilitated the Kodiak venture. Teasing out how Russians differentiated themselves from locals, Miller focuses narrowly on the inhabitants of one island outpost, whose interactions, both peaceful and violent, led to the creation of a “new world” that was “never wholly Russian or Alutiiq” (xi). Although less well known than other Russian ventures, such as that at Sitka, Kodiak was, Miller argues, important in no small part because it lay at the “crossroads of early Alaskan colonial contact” (xi)…

At the heart of Miller’s analysis is how mixed-race children came to be important both culturally and economically. Russian American children drew the interest of company leaders and government officials, who “singled out these children to be groomed for middling and at times high-level work within the colonial apparatus” (138). Demographic changes prompted such attention. With the overwhelming majority of native men forced to engage in the increasingly dangerous and difficult otter hunt, overhunting led to ever longer voyages, and growing numbers of men perished at sea. European diseases further contributed to the decline of the indigenous population. Company officials began to recognize two related needs: for young indigenous boys to remain in their communities “to train in the art of the sea otter hunt” (114) as their elders died at accelerated rates and for a population of future company workers to be educated appropriately. The hardships of life in the colonial outpost, the “difficulty of transporting substantial numbers of settlers from mainland Russia” (127), the skewed sex ratio among those who did emigrate, the declining Alutiiq population, and an expanding Kreol one turned the Kreol into “an important constituent of the subject population on Kodiak” (127), a few of whom were sent to study at the company’s expense in Saint Petersburg. State encouragement of mixed-race unions elsewhere, Miller states, typically took place in the earlier rather than later phases of colonial enterprises, with families rather than the state or firms responsible for making decisions about children’s educations. In stark contrast, Russian imperial officials “took increasing interest in this Kreol group of colonial residents as a loyal local population, and their expectations for the behavior of these people as European Russians was expressed in more concrete terms over time” (138), with the 1820s a high point. The church, state, and company all became more interested in these children; the company paid for their education in exchange for years of service, an arrangement that would turn “the local Kreol population into a literate managerial force that would be loyal to the Russian crown” (112)…

Read the entire review here.

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Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Religion on 2013-03-31 22:12Z by Steven

Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America

Cornell University Press
248 pages
7 Illustrations
6.1 x 9.3 in
ISBN-10: 0801446422; ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-4642-9

Gwenn A. Miller, Assistant Professor of History
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts

From the 1780s to the 1820s, Kodiak Island, the first capital of Imperial Russia’s only overseas colony, was inhabited by indigenous Alutiiq people and colonized by Russians. Together, they established an ethnically mixed “kreol” community. Against the backdrop of the fur trade, the missionary work of the Russian Orthodox Church, and competition among Pacific colonial powers, Gwenn A. Miller brings to light the social, political, and economic patterns of life in the settlement, making clear that Russia’s modest colonial effort off the Alaskan coast fully depended on the assistance of Alutiiq people.

In this context, Miller argues, the relationships that developed between Alutiiq women and Russian men were critical keys to the initial success of Russia’s North Pacific venture. Although Russia’s Alaskan enterprise began some two centuries after other European powers—Spain, England, Holland, and France—started to colonize North America, many aspects of the contacts between Russians and Alutiiq people mirror earlier colonial episodes: adaptation to alien environments, the “discovery” and exploitation of natural resources, complicated relations between indigenous peoples and colonizing Europeans, attempts by an imperial state to moderate those relations, and a web of Christianizing practices. Russia’s Pacific colony, however, was founded on the cusp of modernity at the intersection of earlier New World forms of colonization and the bureaucratic age of high empire. Miller’s attention to the coexisting intimacy and violence of human connections on Kodiak offers new insights into the nature of colonialism in a little-known American outpost of European imperial power.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Comparative Timeline
  • Maps
  • Introduction
  • 1. An Economy of Confiscation
  • 2. Beach Crossings on Kodiak Island
  • 3. Colonial Formations
  • 4. Between Two Worlds
  • 5. Students of Empire
  • 6. A Kreol Generation
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Qualifications Is Tossed Out In Federal Court

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-09-14 05:39Z by Steven

Lawsuit Challenging Obama’s Qualifications Is Tossed Out In Federal Court

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

An Alaska-based federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s qualifications to appear as a candidate on the November general election ballot.

Gordon Warren Epperly of Juneau claims that Obama does not have the political right to hold federal office because he’s of mixed race. Epperly filed an objection with the state Division of Elections in April and sued in state Superior Court in July…

…The case was moved to U.S. District Court where Judge Timothy Burgess on August 24th dismissed the lawsuit ‘with prejudice.’ That means it can never be brought up again…

Read the entire article here.

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