Project Background

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Background

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Russian Bishop's House

Sitka National Historic Park History

Tlingit Use of the Park

Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center

Map of the Park

The Sitka National Historical Park was established in 1910 and encompasses approximately 100 acres of forest, river, shoreline, and the restored 1840s Russian Bishop's House building. The Park also contains a collection of totem poles brought to Sitka in 1905 from other Southeast Alaska communities. Through the years, Sitkans have used the park for a variety of purposes: picnics; battle memorial potlatches; gathering native plants; fishing; hunting; a playground for local children; or just as a pleasant place to go for a walk. At one time, it was even referred to as "Lovers Lane."

People interviewed for this project have a variety of ties to the Park. Tlingit elders remember hunting, fishing, and collecting plants from within its boundaries. The Park is significant to the local Kiks.ádi clan since it is where their ancestors fought against and then fled from a Russian invasion in 1804. One of the reasons the land was set aside for the Park in the first place was to commemorate this historic battle. Native and Non-Native Sitkans remember playing in the Park as children, especially those who lived at neighboring Sheldon Jackson School and its mission-sponsored Cottage Community. Former Park employees discuss their experiences working at the Park and key events in the Park's development, such as building the Visitor Center, establishing the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, and restoring the Russian Bishop's House. Artists and administrators tell the Cultural Center's story; they talk about its role in the community, its relationship with the Park, and its influence on their art and their lives.

The National Park Service funded the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program to collaborate with them and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska on the design and development of this program. Planning and design work began in 1998. Kristen Griffin, the Park Service Liaison to this project in Sitka, and Karen Brewster, Research Associate at the Oral History Program conducted interviews from December 1998 to June 1999. Robi Craig, Anthropologist for the Sitka Tribe assisted with the interviews, as well. Program development and production occurred from June to December 1999. The background images for the Tlingit and Cultural Center related pages and the fish shaped button are based on the design of cultural materials, such as a woven basket, a wood carving, and the Cultural Center logo. Click here to view their sources in greater detail.


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