Experience Alaska Native culture
Alaska is home to a broad range of Indigenous cultures with 229 federally recognized tribes across the state. When planning an Alaska vacation, learning more about the state’s 11 distinct Alaska Native cultures gives travelers a better understanding and appreciation of those who have inhabited the land for 10,000 years. And while each tribe has thousands of years of traditions and stories to tell, their cultures are not only found in museums and cultural centers around the state. They remain a living and dynamic part of every community, with Alaska Native-owned operators, tours, and experiences awaiting travelers throughout the state.
MUSEUMS & CULTURAL CENTERS
More than 60 museums and cultural centers across the state provide great insight into the history of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples through one-of-a-kind exhibits. These are a few examples of museums and cultural centers travelers can add to their Alaska itineraries.
● Take a tour of life-sized village sites, watch Alaska Native dance performances and games, listen to Alaska Native stories, watch films, and view exhibits at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage.
● Visit the Anchorage Museum and view its Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage and Alaska exhibits. Or, visit the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.
● Visit the Sealaska Heritage Institute in Juneau for Southeast Alaska cultural exhibits, art, and a Tsimshian cedar clan house.
● Admire an invaluable collection of some of the world’s oldest totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan.
● Participate in workshops on topics like Alaska Native art, woodworking, weaving, song and dance, and more at Glacier Bay’s Huna Tribal House.
● Learn about Alaska’s Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people, art, subsistence, and language at the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak.
● Discover Alaska’s Interior through exhibits, films, performances, and events at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks.
● Learn about Alaska’s Iñupiaq people at the Iñupiat Heritage Center in Utqiaġvik, the Northwest Arctic Heritage Center in Kotzebue and the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome.
CULTURAL TOURS & EXPERIENCES
To gain a better understanding of today’s modern Alaska Native culture, cultural tours and experiences provide travelers with unique, immersive opportunities to connect with Alaska’s Native people and stories. These are a few examples of Alaska Native-owned tours and experiences available across the state.
● On a Cape Fox Tour, view totem poles, observe Alaska Native carvers using traditional tools and techniques, and watch Alaska Native dance performances at the Saxman Native Village in Southeast Alaska.
● Explore Ketchikan and meet Alaska Native artists alongside Where the Eagle Walks Owner Joe Williams, the first Tlingit Native to be elected as Ketchikan Borough Mayor and City of Saxman Mayor.
● Embark on a tour of historical Sitka, visit Sitka National Historical Park, and watch a traditional Tlingit dance performance in a community house with Sitka’s Tribal Tours.
● Owned by the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq people who have inhabited Kodiak Island for over 7,000 years, admire Alaska’s beautiful wilderness at the Kodiak Brown Bear Center & Lodge.
● In Utqiaġvik, discover firsthand the lifestyles of Alaska's Iñupiaq peoples on a tour of the village with a local host on a day or overnight trip with Northern Alaska Tour Company or Tundra Tours.
● On board many cruise ships in Glacier Bay or at Glacier Bay Lodge, enjoy interpretive and educational programs like lectures, storytelling, singing, and displays of traditional art through Huna Totem Corporation’s Alaska Native Voices program.
● Discover more of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures on a visit to Alaska Native rural towns, villages, and communities through Alaskan Dream Cruises.
● Support Alaska’s largest Native Tlingit village of Hoonah with cruises that call on Icy Strait Point, an Alaska Native-owned and operated destination offering cultural storytelling and dance performances, cooking classes, wildlife viewing tours, and other adventures.
These are just a few examples of the many ways to discover Alaska’s diverse Indigenous cultures. To learn more about Alaska’s Native people click here, and order an Alaska vacation planner to make the most of your visit.
Editor’s note: The health and safety of Alaska’s visitors and residents, along with its member businesses, remains a top priority to the Alaska Travel Industry Association throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Alaska tourism businesses are open under the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan and can help you decide if it’s right for you to travel now or in the future. We encourage you to stay in touch with your travel providers for the latest updates and guidelines.