" Dena'ina "
We are The Original People
Chief William Ezi, (1899-1971) my
grandfather, son of Simeon, was also known as "Walking Bill" and "Billy
Goat" Ezi. He preserved the rights of his people by filing Indian land
claim documents with the U.S. government.
Although born in Alaska, like many generations before him, he was not a
U.S. citizen until 1924 when an act of Congress granted citizenship to
all American Indians. Grandpa witnessed the great westernization of
Alaska, including the beginning of classroom style education and an ever
rising squatter mentality. Eventually, numerous claims resulted in the
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971
Many thanks go to the moral minded Congress and countless supporters who
chose to correct a great wrong imposed upon Alaska's original citizens.
Today, Alaska Native Corporations (stemming from ANCSA) as well as some
226 federally recognized Tribal Governments ~ strive to return dignity,
healing, and wealth back to the people.
One day, history books will be correct. Thank you, Grandpa for your
many visits while I was growing up and for your selfless vision to
restore our heritage.
Maria D.L. Coleman
Ezi of the
Anchorage Times 2/24/1935
Covered in a beautiful fringed and
highly colored blanket, and with another warm blanket beside him, and
wearing a strikingly designed, new, pair of mukluks, and attired in a
new suit of clothes and other garnishments, Chief Ezi, for many years
idol of the once powerful tribe of Eklutnas, was laid to rest in the
Mourned by scores of his
people who were present, and also honored by a number of white friends,
the old Chieftan was lowered into the grave as men, women and
children of his tribe chanted in Russian and as the burial ritual was
recited in Russian by Mrs. Billy Austin.
The old Chief rests beneath
a “TOP” house, largest of the kind seen in this region, made by his own
sons and placed above the grave yesterday immediately after the service
and burial. The house stands 5 feet above the grave, is 6½ feet
long and 3½ feet wide. Over the house rises a large wooden cross,
cut out of a log in one solid piece.
The services continued for 2
hours and were characterized with numerous songs, chants and readings,
all in Russian, according to the ritual of the Orthodox Greek Catholic
Church in who’s faith they had been reared and trained from childhood.
to Coleen Mielke