JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker said today he is honored the Kaagwaantaan clan adopted him—an honor bestowed upon very few Alaskan leaders.
“I am so humbled, honored and touched the Kaagwaantaan (pronounced “COG-won-tahn”) has embraced me into the clan’s fold,” Governor Walker said. “Being welcomed into the Tlingit community, and getting to take part in this unique tradition, is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Governor Walker was adopted into the Kaagwaantaan clan on Friday during the 80th assembly of Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, where Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott was given a lifetime achievement award.
The Kaagwaantaan originate from Sitka. The clan was chosen to balance Lt. Governor Mallott, who is of the raven moiety. Tlingit culture dictates a raven must always be balanced with an eagle; a 10,000-year tradition that provides equal representation of families.
“Through this clan relationship, Bill and I are now brothers in law,” Lt. Governor Mallott said. “In Tlingit family relationships, that means we now have a greater obligation and responsibility to each other.”
The Governor’s Kaagwaantaan name is Gooch Waak (pronounced “GOOCH-walk”), which means “Wolf Eyes.”
“Through the Kaagwaantaan adoption we continue to bring the balance that began with the Unity ticket of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott,” said Central Council Tlingit & Haida President Richard Ch’aa Yaa Eesh Peterson. “As honored as I am to call him Governor, I am now equally honored to call him brother.”
The adoption ceremony included a Kaagwaantaan love song and dance.
The Kaagwaantaan clan is the eagle moiety, wolf clan and eagle’s nest house.
Link to video of Governor Walker dancing in adoption ceremony:https://vimeo.com/125615579
Link to ceremony photo album:https://www.flickr.com/photos/akgovbillwalker/sets/72157652020872106/