Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tlingit Culture

Sitka is old. The history of the United States is but a heartbeat in the history of Sitka.

The Kiksadi Clan of the Klingit Indians lived in and around Sitka centuries before Russians or Americans ever set foot on the island's rocky shores.

                                       The paths they walked on are still here.

They thrived undisturbed on their island paradise until 1799 when the Russians arrived and forced their way into Sitka.

                    Totem poles may relate legends, clan lineages or notable events.

Totems were never objects of worship as visiting missionaries believed.

 Types of totems are: House post, healing, ridicule or shame, welcoming, mortuary, grave marker, family crest, door portal, potlatch or event.

Today the town has not expanded much beyond the original settlement.

An early Tlingit brought forward in time from 5,000 years ago would see the same wild vista of the mountains and ocean;

he would see the seal, eagles and sea birds, and the whales and sea lions offshore.

                       He would see his descendants still living here-

-and he would recognize much in their clan affiliations, culture and art.

                                                    Ceremonial Drum

                       This clan robe can take as long as 5 years to make.

                                                                  Bear design

                                                        Killer whale design

 Craftsmans shop at the Sitka Native Historical Park and Cultural Center for Indian history and artists.

                                            Very close attention to detail-

 -shows great pride in their work.

Southeast Alaskan Tlingits belong to either the Eagle or Raven Clan and still observe some ancient customs and practices.

Tlingit carver Tommy Joseph immediately recognized Judy's ivory earings we had purchased in Anchorage. He has been carving since he was 7 years old and now spends much of his time teaching the art to others.

These calls are used by hunters to attract seals. When scratched on the ice they sound like another seal, thus allowing the hunter to approach close to his prey.

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