Alaskan Boys at the Forest Grove Indian School


Alaskan Boys at the Forest Grove Indian School


A group portrait of mostly Tlingit boys from Alaska who were enrolled at the Forest Grove Indian School in 1881 or 2. The photograph was taken by an employee of the I.G. Davidson Studio of Portland, outdoors on the school campus. The Davidson studio took several other group portraits of students on the same day. Copies of the photographs were sold as albumen print cabinet cards to the public, with a portion of the proceeds going to the school coffers. This arrangement was made as an agreement between the studio and the school's first superintendent, Captain M.C. Wilkinson. The caption reads: "Davidson Photo. No. 37. Indian Training School, Forest Grove, Oregon. Group of Alaska Boys. Capt. M. C. WIlkinson, U.S.A., in charge."

The boys wear their everyday school clothes and caps from the school's military-style uniforms. Most of them have tucked small tokens into their button holes: oak leaves and wildflowers. Students in this image probably include those listed in the school roster as having come from Alaska by 1881: William Lear, George Brown, Frank Shattuck, Samuel Goldstein, Walter Burwell, Arthur Jackson, Harry Kadeshan, Charles Lott, Philip Jones, George Blake, and William Lewis. Of these, William Lear and Frank Shattuck appear to have actually been Samish and Coast Salish from northern Washington; the others were Tlingit of Chilkat, Sitka and Stikine. Based on another confirmed photograph, the second boy from the left in the bottom row is probably Walter Burwell. A swing can be seen hanging from the trees in the background, possibly identifying the location as the school's play area, which was just west of the campus.


I. G. Davidson Studio


Off-reservation boarding schools
Native American Studies
Chemawa Indian School


Forest Grove, Oregon





Native American Collection, 1842-1955 (WCMss.261), Whitman College and Northwest Archives, Walla Walla, WA.


Still Image