Indian Jim namesake for Jim Creek, Alaska
The namesake for Jim Creek, Alaska

A True Story

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NOTE:  Various records spell  
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 Stephan.

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.

Douglas 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.

Indian Jim Nikita
McNeil   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.

8/23/1938 and 9/6/1938
The Alaska Miner - Fairbanks, AK



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