My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

The most southern community in Alaska, Metlakatla on Annette Island!

on October 21, 2013

Oct. 16-18, 2013

As I prepared for my trip to Metlakatla (matt-la-Cat-la) I was trying to remember a past visit(s) there, and recalled that my first trip ever for my job with AASB was to Metlakatla in the spring of 2002.  It had been a quick visit but non the less I was able to notice some big changes while at the same time, noting that some things never change.  Once in Metlakatla I also was reminded that in the late 1990’s, as I was in charge of Elderhostel trips, a small cruise ship I was on had stopped here for a day, so indeed I had been there twice before!Image

Metlakatla moved to its current location sometime in the 1890’s  before that Metlakatla was in British Columbia near Prince Rupert.   The word Metlakatla comes from the traditional Native Tsimshian (sim-See-in) word meaning “Salt Water Passage”.  A lay minister in 1886 went to Washington DC and asked the US government to give a group of Natives land in the United State.  The then US President Grover Cleveland selected Annette Island for its calm bays, water sources, and seafood accesiblity.  

One of the most interesting things that makes it different from the rest of Alaska Native communities is that it is a Reservatin.  In 1888 the same lay minister that had asked for it to be moved to the US asked if Metlakatla could be come an Indian Reservation and in 1891 it became one.

I flew to Ketchikan on Alaska Airlines then grabbed a quick flight to Annette Island on Pacific Airways, on a small float plane.  It took less than 15 minutes to fly the 16 miles. 

Typically you hear on the nightly news that Metlakatla was the warm spot in the state.  It is one of the warmest communities in Alaska with only about 3 feet of snow falling in the winters.  Image

Another thing that is unique about Melakatla is that it is a growing rural, Native community in Alaska.  With many other communities losing people to more ‘hub’ communities, Metlakala is not losing but rather gaining individual. 


Tsimshian dolls by Vivian Benson (sister of one of my friends in this community) they are made of red cedar, yellow cedar, sea otter fur, hide, abalone buttons, mother of pearl buttons and human hair.


in 2001 the AISU established the Healing Arts Project in order to promote relationship between health, community and culture by supporting the creativity of local Native Artists.


Chikat and Raven Tail Leggings with the Tsimshain Lightning design, made of wool, yellow cedar, leather , copper, bone feathers, glass beads and sea otter fur.


The designs on the sides of this bentwood box refer to two important aspects of Metlakatla’s history. One side is the symbol of ancestors conversation to Christianity and the other show the migration from Metakatla, BC to the current community in 1887.


the Moon Mask by Aaron Horne, red cedar, abalone, and acrylic paint


Killer Whale Mask made by Wayne Hewson, red cedar, abalone, and acrylic paint

I had a great time working with the community and enjoyed visiting the Annette Island Service Unit, a local medical facility for the community.  The artwork inside the building was amazing, and I have attached many photos of the traditional Native Artwork.  ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageIMG_0719 IMG_0718 IMG_0717 IMG_0716 IMG_0715 IMG_0711 IMG_0707 IMG_0700 IMG_0699 IMG_0698 IMG_0697 IMG_0696 IMG_0695 IMG_0694 IMG_0693 IMG_0692

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