Ketchikan is home to a rich Native Alaskan culture, which can be fully explored at the Totem Bight State Historical Park, home to 15 intricate totem poles. These poles were sourced from abandoned native villages and then restored, and each tells a unique story of Tlingit and Haida carvers.
The restoration project not only helped to preserve important elements of Native heritage, but provided older Native Alaskans with jobs and allowed younger generations to learn about this art form. Look closely at the totem poles and you’ll notice many depictions of Alaskan wildlife, as each animal has its own meaning. An eagle, for example, stands for peace and friendship, while a killer whale stands for strength. There is also an onsite replica Native village, crafted as authentically as possible. Inside the community house, where several Native families from one lineage would have lived together in one large room, visitors can get warm near a roaring fire.
A guide is recommended for a visit to the Totem Bight State Historical Park to provide storytelling. The park is free to enter, and there are a number of trails to explore.