Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Alaska native voices educational institute
Glacier Bay is the ancestral homeland of the Huna Tlingit . The narratives of Sít’ Eeti Gheeyi (Glacier Bay) are rich with human history, tradition and stories that continue to be passed on generation to generation. The Alaska Native Voices Educational Institute Cultural Interpretation team works to expand this tradition by sharing this connection to Glacier Bay through cultural interpretation. Native Cultural Heritage Guides work side by side with Glacier Bay National Park Rangers to provide broad insight to this immense landscape both aboard visiting cruise ships as well as ashore at Glacier Bay Lodge (historically) and at select sites in the nearby community of Gustavus, and escort vessel passengers visiting the Xunaa Shuká Hít in L’eiwshaa Shakee Aan (Bartlett Cove). Visitors to Glacier Bay National Park enjoy interpretive and educational programs which include lectures, storytelling, singing, personal interaction and displays of traditional art, tools and craftsmanship. Interpreters have shared their deeply personal connections with visitors from all over the world since 2000.
Cultural Heritage Guides share their personal experiences, clan and family traditions as well as historic use of the area. Visitors witness and discuss where and how traditional activities would have taken place and where resources were traditionally harvested and utilized through first-hand exposure and interpretive displays. This use is also contrasted with contemporary influences and the effect that these influences have had on their culture and way of life. Visitors are introduced to traditions and methods which have sustained the Huna Tlingit culture and how these methods continue to reflect lessons of sustainability and respectful use of the land to this day. The connections between modern experiences and lifestyles are contrasted, highlighting a modern, contemporary people with deep ties to community and traditions, providing an opportunity to understand how much we all have in common.
Through this cultural interpretive program, cultural preservation is encouraged by perpetuating and expanding knowledge of tradition, language, song and art among the interpreters and community members as well as with visitors. Employees work with Elders, Culture Bearers, and other team members to better understand and communicate their culture and values. Through this sharing comes a greater sense of knowledge and ownership of Tlingit Culture and tradition which in turn strengthens the community as a whole and assures that this is passed on for coming generations to embrace.
We are proud of the hard work done by many over the years to build a strong relationship with the Hoonah Indian Association, Huna Heritage Foundation, and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve and continue to work collaboratively to expand and improve the visitor experience and provide meaningful insight into this cultural and natural wonder.
Alaska Native Voices Educational Institute operates as a 501 (c)(3) non profit organization dedicated to the perpetuation of Native culture by empowering our Cultural Heritage Guides to succeed as well as providing guidance to the public in Native culture, traditions and perspectives through leadership, education and the provision of first-person Native perspectives. Alaska Native Voices Educational Institute recognizes the importance of culture, heritage and homeland. We empower providers of Native Cultural Knowledge, the general public and our partners with responsible and time-honored culturally respectful education and insight.