Alaska has been inhabited for at least 15,000 years. It is surmised that the Alaskan Indians originated in Asia and migrated to Alaska by crossing the Bering land bridge or by traveling in watercraft along the coast. Native peoples lived and continue to live throughout Alaska. They are varied in culture and language, with about 5 major cultural groups described.
The Aleuts are the smallest Native American group, inhabiting the islands of the Aleutian chain. They made their living primarily from the sea, harvesting fish and sea mammals that lived in or near the water. They traveled by a small craft that is now known as the kayak.
The Tlingit and the Haida tribes inhabit the coastal area in southeast Alaska, along the inside passage. They are known for their intricate carving, such as the what is displayed on totem poles. A visitor can see displays of this wonderful art work in Ketchikan.
The Athabascan peoples inhabit the interior of Alaska. They were traditionally hunters. Their fringed and beaded skin garments and moccasins were prized by other tribes and continue to be popular items.
There are 2 major tribes of Eskimos, the Inupiaq in the northern coastal area and the southwestern Yupik tribe. They lived from the bounty in the sea and hunted in small canoes known as umiaks.
Many Native Americans continue to engage in cultural activity and life styles and in recent years, there has been a resurgence of cultural pride and traditions. Check with the local tourist information centers in the areas you visit for cultural activities, presentations and items.