Indigenous people have been living in Alaska for thousands of years. Resulting in a unique and vibrant Native culture that continues to the present. Visitors can experience totem carving, Native dancing, the blanket toss, as well as exploring numerous cultural and historical museums and heritage centres. Russian fur traders were amongst the first settlers, arriving in the 17th century. ‘Onion domes’ and religious icons bear testimony to this episode of the state’s history.
Within the town of Saxman is the largest collection of standing Native American Totem Poles. Some of these are recent reconstructions, but many have been relocated here from abandoned, historic Tlingit villages nearby. A magnificent Clan House and a carving shed allows visitors to see traditional carvers at work.
Located on the grounds of a Tlingit fish camp known as Mud Bight Village is a state park dedicated to the preservation of Native culture. Alongside a reconstruction of a tradition chieftain’s clan house typical of the 19th century are a number of beautifully decorated totem poles.
Few are aware of gold mining in south east of Anchorage, where miners have been digging for gold since about 1897. The operation at Independence was the second biggest in the state. Take a self-guided tour of the abandoned camp, starting at the Mine Manager’s house, now a museum and visitor centre. [Photograph © Switchbladesista]
Through a series of permanent exhibits, the museum introduces visitors to Alaska’s history and natural history; the land, wildlife and people in five different regions. Artefacts spanning some 2,000 years in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery cover everything from the ceremonial to every day objects, traditional to modern.