Tlingit Indians have lived continuously in Sitka since the end of the last Ice Age- an unbroken course of civilization that stretches the very definition of "history." Seen through the eyes of the Tlingit, Sitka's history is a steady drumbeat, a rhythm, a song ten thousand years old. The best way to experience this history is with Tribal Tours, a non-profit founded by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska which employs residents of the Sitka community who train with Tlingit elders and local historians.
On the tour, you will hear about Tlingit ancestry and culture, Russian history and stop at Sitka National Historical Park known as “Totem Park” to locals. At the park, visitors learn about the medicinal plants, salmon cycles and totem symbolism, all of which hold great significance to the Tlingit people. The walk will lead into the park museum exhibits where you can learn about the battle of 1804, when Tlingit Kiks.ádi fought an unsuccessful battle against the Russians to retain their ancestral home.
The tour then leads to a traditional style Tlingit Clan House, where the Naa Kahídi Dancers perform dances and songs passed down from their ancestors. As the sound of a resonating box drum and the aroma of burning cedar fills the room, you too will understand that Sitka’s history is a steady drumbeat, a rhythm, a song ten thousand years old.
- One of Sitka's strongest distinguishing features is the cultural fusion of Tlingit culture intermingled with Russian-American influences which can be seen in local galleries, downtown architecture, dance performances, and local museums.
- The Tlingit have lived continuously in Sitka for over 50 centuries
- Totems are carved history with a variety of functions within the community both in the past and present