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Metlakatla (Tsimshian: Wil uks t’aa mediik) is a census-designated place (CDP) on Annette Island in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 1,375; this had grown to 1,405 by the 2010 census.
Since the late 19th century, it has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only reserve in Alaska and U.S. The Metlakatla voted to opt out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of the 1970s and retained rights to their land and waters. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage; it consists primarily of Tsimshian people and also includes those from other Alaskan Native tribes who wish to join the Metlakatla Indian Community as a bona fide member. Bona fide membership is granted upon approval of the Metlakatla Tribal Council and Executives.
Metlakatla comes from Maxłakxaała, a Tsimshian word meaning "saltwater passage." Metlakatla was named after another village of the same name ("Old Metlakatla") in British Columbia, which is on Metlakatla Pass, near Prince Rupert. In a more ancient time, it was a Tlingit hunting ground known as Taquan. The Tsimshian were granted permission to own the land by Chief Johnson of the Tlingit tribe.
In 1886, William Duncan, an English tannery employee and lay member of the Church Missionary Society, had a doctrinal dispute with the Church authorities in Metlakatla, B.C. He and a devoted group of Tsimshian followers decided to leave Metlakatla. Duncan went to Washington, D.C., in the United States and asked the U.S. government to give his group land in Alaska. The U.S. under President Cleveland gave them Annette Island after a Tsimshian search committee in seagoing canoes discovered its calm bay, accessible beaches, nearby waterfall, and abundant fish.
In 1887 the group arrived on the island and built a settlement in the Port Chester area.
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