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Alaska's Black History: Roshier H. Creecy

Roshier Creecy near Wiseman, Alaska circa 1930
Harry Leonard
Roshier Creecy near Wiseman, Alaska circa 1930

Alaska Black History Notes

Roshier H. Creecy joined the Klondike gold rush of 1898 and prospected around Dawson, but moved to Alaska in 1906, mushing his dog team along the Yukon River winter trail to Fairbanks.

Roshier was the first African American to live and mine in the Koyukuk district in the Brooks Range. He lived there for decades, traveling and prospecting for gold.

His fascinating life story is told in Dr. Margaret F. Merritt's 2019 book "Roshier H. Creecy: A Black Man's Search for Freedom and Prosperity in the Koyukuk Gold Fields of Alaska."

His son, Nathan, left his home in Virginia to search for his father, working his way across the country and into Alaska, where they re-united in Alatna in 1916. Nathan stayed with Roshier until 1919 before heading back to civilization in Fairbanks … where he worked until leaving for the Lower 48 in 1924.

Creecy protested the movement toward war in 1917. It was a volatile year in the nation’s history, as federal officials cracked down on wartime descent.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that Creecy was arrested in November, 1917…for making statements against President Woodrow Wilson, and for criticizing government actions in carrying out the war.

He appeared in films recording gold mining in the Koyukuk from the 1930s that are now stored in the Archives at the Rasmuson Library at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

His sister, Lettie Trent, reported his death in 1949; he would have been 82 years old.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.