Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage, AK

 This is a must-see in Anchorage!  The Alaska Native Heritage Center has performances, examples of traditional homes and crafts, videos and much more.  The emphasis is on presenting the living culture of the native peoples of Alaska.  

The first performance we watched was of drumming, singing and dancing.  One of the dances enacted a baby seal coming out of the water and shaking the water off his head.  Very cute!  We took a guided tour of the totem poles and traditional homes.  There were several styles of homes - beautifully crafted cedar houses and cosy sod homes that looked like hobbit houses.  Each home also had examples of objects like atlatls (a throwing stick), kayaks, seal skin clothing and more.  The indigenous people have developed a lot of interesting technologies to help them cope with their environment.  After the tour, we watched a fascinating display of the events in the World Eskimo Indian Olympics. Three young athletes demonstrated the jumping and kicking events.  They were very skilled and very enthusiastic.  Then, we watched a depressing movie about the enslavement of indigenous peoples, a topic I knew little about.  There were also crafts and art pieces for sale by local indigenous artisans.

It would be easy to spend a full day here!  The performers and guides are mostly young people and they were very personable and happy to answer questions about their topic and their lives, in general.  At the gift shop, we bought a pair of earrings made of mammoth tusk.  We learned that the tusks are often found along river banks, uncovered after flooding.  The whole ones are sold to collectors and the broken pieces are made into jewelry.

                                                                This is standing on one hand and reaching with one foot to kick     
                                                                This event is kicking a ball with two feet


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