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.
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.
Island Prisoner Photograph
Jim Nikita (also known
as Indian Jim) was the namesake for
an area 7½ miles southeast of Palmer, Alaska known as
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.