Sitka Harbor
Photo by: Robert A. Estremo, Creative Commons

One can hardly miss the strong influence of the Tlingit tribe in every major town in Alaska. You can’t walk anywhere without seeing or hearing about the legacy of one of Alaska’s major tribal societies that walked the lands of Alaska before the arrival of the European settlers. Yet the true and original home of the Tlingit among the many communities will always be Sitka.

Legend has it that the Tlingit natives arrived at Sitka many years ago after sighting the smoke from Mount Edgecumbe in Kruzof Island. When the Russians arrived in 1799, conflict ensued between the two factions over Sitka territory at the Battle of Sitka. The Russians successfully drove off the tribe into the forest and established Sitka as the capital of Russian America. It was here in Sitka that the historic turnover from Russia to the US took place in 1867.

The town of Sitka is near the Tongass National Forest, deemed as the world’s largest temperate rainforest, just off the outer coast of the Inside Passage. Sitka has the fourth biggest population in all of Alaska. Access to the area is limited, however, by air and sea. It’s no surprise that the largest harbor system in all of Alaska is located here.

Sitka has many points of interest for the tourists who visit like the Alaska Raptor Center, a volunteer operation that oversees the welfare of the indigenous bald eagles and Sitka National Park, the oldest federal park that spans 113 acres of rain forest scenery, just to name a few. Aside from spectacular scenery and outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife sight-seeing, one of the things Sitka residents are proud of is their unique history which combines their native Tlingit heritage with Russian influences.

These two influences are greatly seen in their infrastructures. The Sitka residents continuously strive to preserve the arts of their ancestors within their community and generously share these unique performances with their visitors.

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