Totem Heritage Center | Ketchikan, Alaska


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Our brief foray into the Totem Heritage Center was enjoyable. Forest was so enthralled by some of the totems outside as we took photos with them that ran up the ramp and really wanted to go in. Chris and I both had a feeling this would not be the place for a rambunctious 5-year old. He loves going to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and even then we are bouncing from exhibit to exhibit, not really able to focus on reading any of the exhibit signs or really getting to absorb it. But he was adamant about going in and since he was free and we only had to pay for me and Chris, we decided to go in.

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Forest really loved this totem because it resembled a dinosaur of sorts. I think it looks more like an alligator.

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I tried to stop and read some of the displays, learning about the tribal cultures of the area.

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The art that was on display was gorgeous and it was super frustrating that we weren’t able to really find a lot of local or indigenous art for sale in any of the towns we went through. I don’t know if we weren’t looking in the right places or what, but it would have been great to have found a piece that represented the trip for us.

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The room that kept some of these old totems safe was very cool. I loved reading the cards and seeing the old photographs, trying to imagine life both tribal and of the white settlers during this time period. And just the sad stories that were shared on some of them, how the totems were taken for various reasons, and how the cultures began fading after colonization. I mean, it’s the same story of what happened in the Lower 48.

I really enjoyed the museum and if you find yourself in Ketchikan and have some time, do spend an hour there learning about the tribes of the Tongass.

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