Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023
Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand - Saturday, December 30, 2023

Monday, August 7, 2023

Alaskan Cruise, Day 3, The Sitka National Historical Park - Part 2, Monday, August 7, 2023

Continued from Part 1...

I said goodbye to Susan and Darren who headed back to the ship to rest. Now, I'm going to do the second 5 km on my own. This is the part of Sitka I'm most interested in seeing: Sitka National Historical Park with its totem forest.

The first part of this 5 km walk started by following the sidewalk along the marina. I detoured across the street to look at the Russian Bishop's House, a totem pole in front of a school, and St. Peter's By the Sea Episcopal Church. 

While I was taking photos of the Russian Bishop's House, who should show up but Bob? He was walking along the marina with his mom when he saw me. We had a smooch and took a selfie. 

All along the marina are signs explaining the
different types of ocean fishing. 

A totem pole in front of the school.

The history of the Russian Bishop's House is one that has been repeated over and over in the indoctrination of Native peoples into white cultures. 

The history of the Russian Bishop's House.

The Russian Bishop's House.

After I obtained a national park stamp in my national park book for the Russian Bishop's House, I walked over to say hi to Louise. She's doing very well walking with her oxygen compressor. Bob, Liz, Kristin, and Laura all help her get around both off and on the ship.

St. Peter's By the Sea Episcopal Church.

St. Peter's By the Sea Episcopal Church.

I returned to walk along the marina and learned from the signboards that besides trolling, other types of ocean fishing are gill-netting and longline fishing. 

Sitka, Alaska, marina.

Multiple other signs provided by the Sitka Sound Science Center help educate about the "Value of Seafood," "Salmon Neighborhoods: Eat or Be Eaten,"  "Salmon Need the Rainforest," "Plants of the River Edge," "The Tongass Rainforest Needs Salmon," and "The Sitka Sawmill Rehabilitation."



Along the coastline, families were out enjoying
the day. You can see a cruise ship out in the bay.
(That is not our ship.)

When I made my way into the Sitka National Historical Park, I found more indoctrination, evangelism, cultivation, and edification of the Native people took place when the Americans bought Alaska. The Tlingits gave up their way of life, culture, and language to live in the "cottages" that the Americans provided. 


What I really want to see is the Totem Trail. For more than a century, the Totem Trail has been a Sitka landmark. None of the poles came from Sitka. 

Alaska Governor John Brady collected the totem poles here from villages in southeast Alaska. Brady was friends with the Alaskan Natives. They honored his friendship by donating their totem poles. In return, Brady promised to preserve the poles and persuade the U.S. government to provide schools and aid to their villages.

Brady viewed the poles as curiosities from a culture soon to be lost to "modern" ways. He collected them to exhibit at two world fairs (1904-1905), one was the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904. 

After the fairs closed, Brady shipped the poles to Sitka. Here, in what was the original capital of the Alaska district, the poles were preserved in a "government park" in honor of their donors.

A local photographer, Elbridge W. Merrill arranged the totem poles along a trail in 1906 and donated money to preserve and repair them. He became the first custodian of the Sitka National Monument in 1918 for a salary of $12 a year. Local photographers made postcards of this part of the Totem Trail, nicknamed "Lover's Lane," to encourage tourists to travel to Sitka.

Let's take a look at these wonderful totems.

The National Park Visitor Center.

I made sure to collect my national park stamp in my National Park Book while I was here. Unfortunately, we were not in Sitka long enough to do two walks AND visit all the museums. Hopefully, we can return one day to explore the history more.

Another totem by the visitor center.

This totem is by the beach in front
of the visitor center.

This grouping of three totems is up the hill
from the visitor center. The 5 km walk took me
up this little hill and back down.

A colorful totem pole behind the 
visitor center.

At this point, I entered the Totem Trail in the forest. It was raining slightly and the farther I got from the visitor center, the fewer people there were. 

The photo below is the Yaadaas Crest Corner pole. The Yaadaas Crest corner poles originally stood at each corner of the Yaadaas clan house in Old Kasaan and represent the symbols of that clan. Steve Brown and Tlingit carver Nathan Jackson carved this replica in 1982.

Yaadaas Crest corner pole.


The meaning of the Raven Shark pole in the photo below: The Raven Shark pole is a legend pole. While it may represent the clan symbols of the Tlingit patron's wife, it may also symbolize the raven/shark legend. Tlingit artist Tommie Jimmie carved this replica pole in 1978.

The Raven Shark pole.

The Trader Legend pole (pictured below) is a ridicule pole. At the top is a white man and below are images representing thievery. This pole is a replica carved between 1938 and 1942. Although the original story associated with this pole has been forgotten, when the pole was recarved the images became associated with a dishonest Sitka trader. This pole lives on with a new story.

Trader Legend pole.





Bear warning signs were posted in the forest, so I was hypervigilant and made noise to warn any bears lurking in the trees to stay away from me. The bears were interested in the salmon returning to spawn in the creek here. I made it through safely.

Stunning view of the mountains surrounding Sitka!

The Alaska rainforest. I'm looking for bears.

Salmon returning to spawn; it is
likely bears will be nearby to dine.

While I headed out of the forest for the last leg of the walk, Bob called. He wanted to meet up and finish the walk with me. I told him where I was and he was there in ten minutes. We walked by the Sitka National Cemetery and then back along the marina to the start/finish point of the walk. We boarded a shuttle bus there to go back to the ship (seven miles north).

Sitka National Cemetery.

Returning to the Norwegian Bliss in Sitka.

Cold, wet travelers (us) ready to board the ship.

Sitka is a wonderful port and one we hadn't been to before. I am so happy that there are Volksmarches here. It's a great way to see a new place and get exercise as well. 

Thank you to the Central Washington Sun Striders Club for creating walks to the major sites in Sitka. Sitka is only accessible by boat and plane so we want to let you know that your foresight in setting up these walks for cruise ship and plane travelers (and possibly locals) is wonderful. We appreciate your efforts!!!

For entertainment this evening, we saw "SIX: the Musical." I enjoyed the singing and dancing; it reminded me of the movie "Chicago" (2002) with RenĂ©e Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, and Taye Diggs. 

Tomorrow, we will be in Alaska's state capital, Juneau.

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