Thursday, September 4, 2008


Haines is the heart of the Chilkat Valley, the historic capitol of Tlingit Indian culture and art, the site of a frontier gold rush and home of Alaska's first permanent army base.

 Here at the northern reaches of the inside passage North America's longest and deepest fjord meets the northern mainland and two great landscapes converge.

The first permanent white settlement was established here in 1881 and Haines still retains a friendly small-town flavor.

It is here that the interior tundra we have experienced over much of this trip gives way to the Southeast rainforest which we will enjoy as we take the Alaska Marine Ferry to Prince Rupert on our way to the lower 48, or "To the outside", as Alaskans would say.

 The white buildings of historic Ft. Seward form a distinctive landmark on the hillside and are now both private homes and a unique Tlingit art and cultural district.

The fort cannon was cast in 1861 and is one of the world's first breech-loading naval guns, designed to use shell casings and to be fired from the rear.

The center of Tlingit art and culture lies twenty-two miles up the Chilkat River from Haines at the village of Klukwan. Known as the "Mother Village", it is recognized as the earliest of the Chilkat villages and the only one still active today.

This replica of a Clan House is used to explain Tlingit culture to tourists, of which there are none here today [except us]. Southeast native art is described as formline or totemic art. It is recognized by fluid design units and images depicting creatures of the natural and spiritual worlds. Without a written language, these people developed a sophisticated oral tradition and used visual documentation to pass on cultural and historical information.

                                                  A Tlingit totem pole.

 The Alaskan Indian Art Center, located in the old fort hospital, is empty today as the fish are in and the carvers, also commercial fishermen, are out fishing. They are known throughout the world for their extremely fine creations in wood, metal and fabrics.

This totem will take them almost two years to complete, as attention to detail is everywhere.

This is not a totem pole. It is a corner post from a Tlingit clan house as shown in the replica house in a previous picture. Each clan "owns" it's own symbols passed down from generation to generation. These symbols identify members in clothes, houses and their art. Collections of symbols tell a story as in a language.

Judy's son, Mark, would just love to have this fine steam powered well driller. He is an owner of H2O Well and Pump Co. and could use this aging addition to his already fine selection of drilling equipment.

                      Judy decided to sneek up on this bear.

We were told he washes his feet and plays with sticks in the river every day.

                                 Red-breasted Merganser Duck

No comments: