Of the various places that my family visited during our Alaskan Cruise, the only major park that we visited for FREE was Sitka National Historical Park.
Established in 1910, it is Alaska’s oldest federally designated park. The park commemorates the Battle of Sitka when the natives of the Northwest Coast fought against the Russians.
The Visitor Center hosts a collection of original totem poles, monumental sculptures carved on poles by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America. The totem poles are not native to Sitka as they were brought to Sitka in 1905, but totem poles are very much part of the Tlingit tradition. The Tlingits are natives who have lived in Alaska for thousands of years.
The other edifice to visit which is part of the park is the Russian Bishop’s House which was home to the Russian Bishop that the Tlingits loved because he drew them to the church and at the same time accepted their traditions. The 1843 building has a chapel, exhibits, and refurnished quarters.
What I appreciate the most about the visit to Sitka National Historical Park is I left understanding the life of the Tlingits and the American Indians in general and their struggle to maintain their identity and their traditions as colonists aimed to turn their ways to that of their colonists.
Personally, the experience emphasized that people are unique. We have our differences, but we are all essentially human seeking to have our place in this world free to exercise our cultural beliefs and traditions.