Culture & History
One of Sitka's strongest distinguishing features is the cultural fusion of the Tlingit intermingled with Russian American influences. This robust duality emanates from the local galleries, art, downtown architecture, dance performances, and local museums.
The Tlingit have lived continuously in Sitka for over 50 centuries. Discover age-old stories of the Tlingit people at Sitka National Historical Park (known as "Totem Park" by locals) and the adjacent Sitka Cultural Center. Here, totems carved by the masterful hands of Tlingit and Haida Indians can be seen along a pathway that meanders through the rain-forest.
The Naa Kahidi Dancers include Tlingit performers both young and old. Together, they maintain the ancient art of storytelling through traditional dance. Performances are held throughout the summer in the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi, built in the style of a Tlingit clan house. Intricate regalia and dramatic movement delight audiences who come to hear and see songs and dances passed on from one generation to the next.
Sitka was the cultural and political hub of Russian America in the early 19th century. While San Francisco was only a sleepy cow town, Sitka's opulence had already earned it the distinction as the "Paris of the Pacific". A casual downtown stroll will reveal such gems as St. Michael's Cathedral, an active Russian Orthodox Church whose onion-shaped domes have graced Sitka's skyline for nearly two centuries.
The New Archangel Dancers take their name from Sitka's century-old designation as the capital of Russian America. The all-female troupe preserves this heritage throughout the summer by delivering spirited dance renditions that represent the cultures of Russia and surrounding areas. From the vibrant floral prints of Russia, to the plaids and braids of the Ukraine, to the Georgian gowns and earth tones of the Armenian folk wear, the dancers' costumes lend both color and authenticity to remarkable entertainment.