While Alaska Native people make up about 15 percent of the state, nowhere else but Anchorage is there such a joining of all major Alaskan cultural groups. The Dena’ina Athabascan people first settled in the area thousands of years ago. Anchorage is now a melting pot of Native culture and is often called Alaska’s largest village.
Know who you are. An important value of nearly every Alaska Native culture is to understand where a person comes from and where they are going. In museums, cultural centers and historic sites across Anchorage, visitors see how generations of Alaska Native people have woven art, language, land and family into hundreds of unique culture groups.
Accept what life brings. Across some of the most challenging land in the world, Alaska Native people have gathered around the warmest fires. Annual celebrations throughout the year draw on traditions of gathering, hunting and celebrating and bring them into a contemporary light open to all.
Share what you have. Alaska Native people continue to share their rich heritage, contemporary innovations and promising future. Visitors step into Alaska Native galleries where history meets imagination and listen as historic songs meet a modern dance beat.
Get to know Alaska’s first people at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This renowned facility, located on a wooded 26-acre site in east Anchorage, offers a unique opportunity to experience and participate in live performances and hands-on demonstrations. Watch an award-winning film and check out the exhibits before stepping outside to visit six authentic life-sized Native dwellings.
The cultural survival of Alaska's first people is revealed in a rare and unique exhibit in the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum. "Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska" brings more than 600 rare Alaska Native heritage artifacts back home to Alaska, evoking strong sentiment among elders who portray their emotional and spiritual connections to these objects through multi-media installations.
Buy the Alaska Culture Pass and get admission to both the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum, along with a free shuttle ride from the Visit Anchorage Information Centers in downtown Anchorage.
Eklutna Historical Park and the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo provide additional opportunities in Anchorage to learn about Alaska Native Culture. Alaska Native-made arts and crafts make beautiful and distinctive Alaska gifts - find six great tips on what to look for in authentic Native art.
The athleticism of Alaska’s indigenous cultures is on display each year when youth from all over Alaska converge on Anchorage for an annual event that began as the Native Youth Olympics, but now referred to as NYO Games Alaska. Events such as the wrist carry, Eskimo stick pull, and one- and two-foot high kick are based on games past generations of Alaska Natives played as a way to test their hunting and survival skills, increase strength, endurance, agility and the balance of mind and body.