Indian Jim namesake for Jim Creek, Alaska
The namesake for Jim Creek, Alaska
A True Story
the name Stephan as well as Stepan
In late November of 1914,
Tom Stephan (of the Nicoli Tribe), his wife Nagolia and 13 year
old daughter Inga, left Knik and headed to their hunting grounds near
the Nelchina District to set traps. When they got there, "Indian Jim"
Nikita (from the Eklutna vicinity) had already set out his own traps
in Stephan's territory. A heated argument erupted and Indian Jim shot
Tom Stephan to death while Nagolia and Inga watched.
To counter any future revenge from Stephan's people, Indian
Jim did the honorable thing and took the dead man(and his widow
and daughter) back to the safety of the Chickaloon coal district;
it took them ten days to get there. He then continued, alone, to Knik
where he confessed that he had shot and killed "Old Tom Stephan"
some 20 days earlier.
A week later, a band of Dena'ina men went to Chickaloon
and brought Stephan's body back to Knik. When they buried him, they rang
the church bell for a full fifteen minutes in honor of the well respected
The U.S. Deputy Marshal arrested Indian Jim and took
him to the Federal Jail in Valdez to wait for Grand Jury proceedings.
Six months later, he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced
to three years at McNeil Island Penitentiary.
Island News 12/30/1914
The Alaska Daily Empire - Juneau 8/3/1915
Prison records suggested that Indian Jim, prisoner 2622,
had a rough life. He was born in 1870; was 5'+7/8" tall and 137 pounds.
He had multiple scars on his head; he was missing part of his left
earlobe where an earring had been cut out; he had a 6" scar on his
lower back; he had 4 long angular scars above his left knee and 4 long
angular scars above his right knee; his right wrist and fingers were
deformed from previous fractures and he had multiple scars on both hands.
McNeil Island Prisoner Photograph
Jim Nikita (also known as
Indian Jim) was the namesake for
an area 7½ miles southeast of Palmer, Alaska known
JIM CREEK. That general area was Jim Nikita's
stomping grounds and the USGS came up with the
Jim Creek name in about 1925.
When Indian Jim
died in the fall of 1938, a huge potlatch was held in his honor
at Eklutna and
Dena'ina people from all over
Cook Inlet attended.
8/23/1938 and 9/6/1938
The Alaska Miner - Fairbanks, AK