Ketchikan Visitors Bureau

Ketchikan: Our Native Legacy

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Southeast Alaska is home to three distinct Native tribal groups: the Tlingit, the Haida and the Tsimshian. With deeply meaningful cultural traditions, all three tribes have imbued the land
with a profound and palpable legacy.

This Emmy Award winning film chronicles the history of SE Alaska’s Native people and gives a glimpse into traditions that have survived through the centuries, despite more than two generations of assimilation and acculturation.

From the time of first contact with European missionaries and other settlers, Native Alaskans were treated as second-class citizens. They didn’t have basic civil rights and couldn’t own land until they adopted European style of dress, learned English, and eschewed the traditional ways of their culture. During these years, it became more difficult to teach and learn traditional cultural ways—tribal languages were forbidden, totem poles and other artifacts were traded or burned, potlatches were outlawed—but the elders of the time kept the embers of their Native traditions burning. Thanks to their efforts, the culture is growing and thriving today.