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December 2008

Pacific Northwest News

Kamehameha’s Schooner Tamana - A Hawaiian Connection to a Historic Olympic Peninsula Shipwreck

By Chris Cook

The schooner Tamana was built by Kamehameha's ship builders at either Waikiki Beach or along the shore of Honolulu Harbor in about 1805. This detail from a painting of Honolulu Harbor in 1808 is by renowned marine artist and historian Raymond A. Massey. It shows canoe halau modified to shelter the ali'i's fleet of western-style schooners. Massey's art work of historic Age of Sail scenes in Hawai`i and in the Pacific Northwest can be viewed at www.shipstoregalleries.com
Illustration courtesy of Raymond A. Massey

The first western woman to set foot in Washington state did so by going over the side of a shipwrecked schooner originally built for Kamehameha I at Waikiki Beach or Honolulu Harbor.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Petrovana Bulygin sought safety on an isolated black sand beach a few miles north of the Quileute Tribe’s village at LaPush on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula.

The Russian woman sailed from the Russian American Company’s base at Sitka in what is today known as Alaska. Her husband, Nikolai Bulygin, was the captain of the Sv. Nikolai [Saint Nicholas], a schooner probably 45-50 feet long. The voyage had a mandate from Alexander Baranov, the head of the Sitka base, similar to that of the Lewis & Clark expedition: gather information on possible settlement, on agriculture and trading possibilities, in this case in advance of Russian colonization.

Anna, along with her husband, Russian fur hunters known as promyshlennik, an Englishman, Aleut men and women, and a part-Russian teenager, went ashore on November 1, 1808. This was after almost a week of being adrift and tossed around by gale winds and large swells in the tumultuous mid-autumn Pacific, drifting from Destruction Island southwest of the Hoh River north about 20 miles to the beach near LaPush.

On Nov. 1, 1808, the schooner Sv. Nikolai-Tamana is believed to have shipwrecked near Ellen Creek, about 1.5 miles north of the Quileute village at LaPush on the Olympic Peninsula.
Photo by Chris Cook

The party used sails draped over wooden yards from the shipwreck as tents, lit a fire and prepared to march south dozens of miles to Grays Harbor where they hoped a companion Russian ship, the Kad‘iak, a much larger vessel, would pick them up.

Immediately their plans were dashed. A party of warriors, possibly from the Hoh Tribe, approached the emergency encampment and began picking through a pile of items salvaged from the ship. In a cultural misunderstanding often typical of 18th and 19th century encounters between western ships and native cultures, shots were fired and three warriors lay dead.

A desperate retreat south on foot ensued, ending at the mouth of the Hoh River with the capture of Anna and three others in the party. Her husband and Timofei Tarakanov, the supercargo of the ship and a wise and brave Russian serf working his way up in the Russian American Company, took the survivors of the party upriver about 13 miles. By late winter the men surrendered and were enslaved by the Makah Tribe, and taken to Cape Flattery on the north tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

In the end, the men, led by Tarakanov who was considered skilled in frontier ways by the tribe, were treated fairly well, though a handful were traded as slaves to distant tribes.

In May 1810 the American sea captain Thomas Brown, working for the Russian American Company, anchored off Cape Flattery and bargained trade goods in exchange for the survivors.

Captain Bulygin died of advanced consumption in 1810 prior to the rescue, and Anna died in captivity in 1809.

The Hawaiian connection to this tragic story is the Sv. Nikolai, a schooner likely constructed of wiliwili, hau and other native Hawaiian woods by a Yankee shipbuilder in the employ of Kamehameha I in anticipation of an invasion of Kaua‘i.

The schooner was one of over 20 Hawai‘i-built schooners in the ali‘i’s fleet, and named Tamana in honor of Ka‘ahumanu, Kamehameha’s favorite, and powerful, wife. In the Hawaiian navy the schooners served as steady platforms for cannon and swivel guns during sea battles and bombardments of troops on land, and as cargo-carrying companions to the hundreds of sleek, long, double-hulled fleet of koa peleleu canoes Kamehameha gathered on O‘ahu.

The schooner’s destiny took a twist when American sea captain William Shaler made Kamehameha an irresistible offer in September 1805: the Portsmouth, Va.-built, 175 ton ship Lelia Byrd for the Tamana plus $4,000 in silver specie.

Kamehameha went for the deal. The Lelia Byrd – the ship that transported the first horses to Hawai‘i, from lower California – needed heavy repairs, but did eventually carry a fortune in sandalwood to Canton, China for the ali‘i.

Shaler, and his partner – Richard Cleveland of Salem, Massachusetts – hired itinerant American sea captain John Hudson to sail the Tamana on trading voyages that ran from San Luis Obispo down to the offshore islands of Baja California. A Hawaiian outrigger canoe was placed aboard to use to paddle ashore when anchored. On his second voyage, made in 1807, Hudson met Pavl Slobodchikov, a promyshlennik aboard the New England ship O’Cain. After poaching valuable sea otter furs from under Spanish noses along the California coast, the Russian had had enough of sailing under a Yankee sea captain and offered 150 sea otter furs to Hudson for the Tamana. Hudson and the Russian then sailed to Honolulu with three “kanaka” Hawaiian sailors among the crew. Kamehameha was upset over the deal, but gave Slobodchikov a regal red and yellow feather cape for Baranov with hopes of influencing the Russian official to encourage trade and have his kingdom recognized internationally. Slobodchikov christened the schooner the Sv. Nicholai and sailed for Sitka, perhaps with the Hawaiians remaining as crew, arriving at New Arkhangel, Sitka on August 22, 1807.

Plans are underway for construction of an interpretive monument to the Sv. Nikolai, perhaps in the Hoh River region, a memorial that now has a Hawaiian connection.

(Read of how the Sv. Nikolai shipwreck flowed over into the Russian era in Hawai‘i in 1816-1817 in part two of the Sv. Nikolia-Tamana account in Northwest Hawai`i Times Jan 09.)

A talk on the Russian and Hawaiian sides of the Sv. Nikolai incident is being given at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at the Forks campus of Peninsula College by City of Forks Attorney Rod Fleck and Forks Forum Editor Chris Cook.

Chris Cook is a kama‘aina on a Northwest interlude, serving as editor and publisher of the Forks Forum out in “Twilight” country on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. He is the former editor of The Garden Island newspaper on Kaua‘i and a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i. A long-time surfer on the north shores of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i, he occasionally rides West End waves.

Main source for Pacific Northwest side of the story is The Wreck of the Sv. Nikolai by Kenneth N. Owens and Alton S. Donnelly, Oregon Historical Society, 1985.


Across Cultures: Hawaiian Language Students
Host Yakama Nation

By Alexis Attanasio '00

David Del Rocco (second from right) Hawaiian Resource Library and Social Studies faculty at Punahou with visiting members of the Yakama Nation.
Photo by Kathleen Connelly, Courtesy of Punahou

When Punahou’s third year Hawaiian language class invited a small group of high school students from the Yakama Nation Tribal School, Kumu Fergerstrom’s class got a chance to play consummate hosts. The visit was a cultural exchange, with students from both groups sharing song, food, dance and words of friendship in their languages of origin.

In keeping with the aloha spirit, the Hawaiian students greeted their Yakama visitors with lei. The guests responded by handing out gifts of their own. “Traditionally, we share food as an expression of hospitality,” tribal-school administrator Anita Swan explained, “but our traveling did not permit this, so we brought earrings and key-chains instead.”

Unencumbered by airline regulations, the Hawaiian students did have snacks to offer their mainland friends: breadfruit, sweet potato and kalo. As they ate, the students chatted and learned about their respective cultures. The Yakama students discovered where to surf, and the Hawaiian students found out about the huckleberries, salmon and deer that comprise the traditional foods of the Yakama people.

The two groups then shared their experiences as native language learners. Located in Washington state, the Yakama Nation Tribal School is the only school on its reservation to teach Sahaptin, the tribe’s native language and to require its study for graduation. Like Hawaiian, Sahaptin nearly died out in the 20th century, but has enjoyed a resurgence over the past fifteen years. Both groups agreed on the importance of keeping a culture alive through language. As Swan observed, “Our people have traveled through three experiences: pre-contact [with Europeans]; pre-English, when all our people spoke their native language; and pre-modernization. Modernization has many benefits, but it is important that we reclaim our language so that we can hold our people’s traditions and wisdom in our hearts.”

The event ended with a true cultural exchange of dance and music. The Hawaiian students shared hula and slack key while the Yakama shared songs accompanied by drums and flutes. Among the Yakama music was a courting song (commonly called a “snagging song”) and a healing chant, customarily preformed in the winter. Winter is the traditional time of cleansing in Yakama culture, when people let go of the trials and tribulations that bothered them throughout the year so that they can begin the spring renewed.

Despite the obvious differences between the two groups, both schools departed noting the similarities, particularly the importance of perpetuating their native languages. “The biggest struggle facing our tribe today,” Swan said, “is the conflict presented by living in two worlds. Many traditional teachings are strong in our hearts but they are threatened by modernization…While there’s nothing wrong with modernization, we need to be careful not to lose our heritage. That’s why we have to learn our language and get a good education, so that when we are old enough and wise enough, we can pass on the traditions of our ancestors to future generations.”

Alexis Attanasio, a 2000 graduate of Punahou School, has a BA from Swarthmore and an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School as well as a teaching certificate in English. She is currently interning in the Punahou's Communications Office.

Reprinted courtesy of Punahou School. Printed previously online at www.punahou.edu


In forefront is an `awa bowl. `Awa, a ceremonial drink, is an important part of social and cultural interaction. In back are traditional hula dress and implements.

Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle Opens
Major Native Hawaiian Exhibit

By Karen Yoneda

Ho’omauu Ka Huaka`i

The Voyage Continues: Native Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest

November 20, 2008 marked the kick-off of the HO’OMAU KA HUAKA’I at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s International District.

The exhibit presents artifacts, photographs, digital photographs, multimedia and vivid stories from the presence of Native Hawaiians over the past 200 years in the Pacific Northwest. Exhibit developer Joshua Heim noted that Native Hawaiians were the first from Pacific Islands and Asian countries to make their way to the Northwest. After the 1778 arrival of Captain Cook in Hawai`i, Hawaiians were able to use their skills in boating and swimming, hunting and fishing, to contract with Northwest companies such as Hudson’s Bay Company beginning in the 18th century.

According to Heim, the exhibit has three purposes:

"`Ahu La`i (tī leaf rain cape) is a symbol of canoe. Made in Kawaihae, Hawai`i and brought on the voyaging canoe Hawai`iloa in 1995, `ahu la`i were gifted by the Polynesian Voyaging Society to Native American and Native Hawaiian kupuna (elders)." --WLAM


  1. Perpetuate and treasure Hawaiian legacy as inspiration for children and adults.
  2. Treasure the “aloha spirit” for all in everyday living as experienced in Hawai`i.
  3. Designate community as curator and museum as organizer.

The exhibit will continue through August 16, 2009 and all are welcomed to visit Wing Luke’s newly renovated location in a historic 1910 hotel on 719 South King Street in Seattle’s Chinatown/ID. In addition, the public is invited on December 20, 2008, 1pm-3pm Family Day featuring Na Lei O Manu`akepa to learn how to use Native Hawaiian natural dyes on cloth with Na Lei O Manu'akepa, a traditional hula academy that presents migration stories and traditions of Hawai'i. (Free admission)

More events will be scheduled later.  Visit www.wingluke.org for updates.



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