Some time ago I received a call from a friend who used to read my essays in my monthly column in the Juneau Empire twenty years ago. He said he wondered what I was talking about as I warned America about the erosion of the Natural Law and the U.S. Constitution, tribal and local governments, etc. He said after twenty years he was finally able to see that all the things I have alerted Americans about is actually coming true right before our eyes today. Now, there is no way that I am a prophet, although I do believe I get a lot of my ideas from the Creator and the Law of Nature.
How many of us are familiar with the Declaration of Independence in the U.S Constitution these days?
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Bertrand J. Adams Sr.’s Tlingit name is Kadashan, who was named after his great grandfather, John Kadashan, a clan leader from Wrangell, Alaska. Adams was educated at Sheldon Jackson college and Brigham Young University. While at Sheldon Jackson he began writing short stories with the mentorship of his creative writing instructor, Nellie Ottie. Mrs. Ottie took special interest in his writing and helped him structure a short story including plot, dialogue and many elements that consist of stories. During the semester, he wrote about a dozen stories; when he finished Sheldon Jackson, he pursued other interests.
One fall he married a woman who had eight children from a previous marriage, therefore his quest to finish his education and writing was interrupted for twelve years. His writing ambition was renewed when he was accepted at Brigham Young University to finish his education as an English major. It was there that he learned the real discipline of writing. He would take out his stories and rewrite, however he never had a desire to do any more with them.
Following is Kadashan’s account of Ms. Ottie’s visit with him years later:
“Twenty years after Sheldon Jackson, I received a telephone call from Nellie Ottie. She was at a reunion at Sheldon Jackson and wanted to fly from Sitka to Yakutat and visit me. Even though I was excited about seeing her, I was puzzled as to why.
She asked to see my stories and then spent the afternoon and evening reading them. After supper, we had this magnificent meeting.
“Why are you keeping these to yourself?” she asked. I admitted that I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my writings.
“None sense!” she replied. “You have so many messages here, and the talent to express yourself about young people, old people and animals. And your descriptions of this beautiful country and people are worth reading about.”
Kadashan was, then, encouraged by this former teacher to try and find a publisher. In fact, it took him another twenty years and his rejection slips was getting thicker than his manuscripts.
One day, he was thumbing through some periodicals at a news stand and saw a magazine that had the photo of a Tlingit woman wearing her clan regalia on the cover. He called her and after he described what he had written and she said she was interested in seeing some of his work. He packaged all thirteen of his stories and mailed them to her. She did not hesitate to use his stories and water color paintings to illustrate his short stories in the Alaska Native Magazine. (Today these stories and images are in his book Yaakwdaat Aya).
In the meantime, he also began to research self-publishing and over a period of time, and hard work, he self-published four books; he is presently working on three more. He also maintains his own website: Kadashan is a retired commercial fisherman and lives in Yakutat with his wife near his family and numerous grandchildren.