Tribal House Project
In October, 2010 the Hoonah Indian Association (HIA) hosted a ceremony to bless two large red cedar logs. This cultural blessing was a way to thank the trees for their contribution to a significant project. Four feet in diameter and 40 feet long, the massive logs will be used to create a carved house screen, the first component of a replica Tlingit plank house to be constructed in Glacier Bay National Park. Part of a long range design plan since 1998, the Huna Tribal House will be constructed along the waterfront of Bartlett Cove, providing the Huna Tlingit the first permanent plank house in their ancestral homeland since their village was destroyed by an advancing glacier over 250 years ago.
The design is based on accounts and photographs from the historical and ethnographic records. These ingenious buildings had gabled roofs held up by four interior posts that supported two massive horizontal beams upon which the rest of the roofing members rested. The walls and floors were of thick, adze finished planks. Inside were square pits, about 25 feet to a side and about 4 feet deep, where daily life circulated around a central hearth. They traditionally housed extended families and a cluster of houses would comprise a clan's winter village. Multiple clans would reside together, and legends tell us that the principal pre-Little Ice Age village of the four Huna clans was located in what is now Bartlett Cove.
The houses were filled with the sacred objects and art that spoke of the clan's origins and histories. These objects consisted of carved and painted interior house posts and partition screens, exterior rain screens and totem poles, and a variety of household items. Glacier Bay National Park and HIA have initiated a project to create these components through a series of workshops in Hoonah. Led by a master carver, apprentices, and involving students from Hoonah High School, the first step will be to design and intricately carve the 30-feet wide interior screen depicting the story of the four Glacier Bay clans and their deep connection to their Glacier Bay homeland. When completed in 2011, it will reside in Hoonah at Icy Strait Point, where it will be on display for the enjoyment of visitors. When the Tribal House is completed the components will be transported to Bartlett Cove for permanent installation. Over the next five years, additional projects will include carving the house posts, totem poles, the exterior house rain screen, and creating traditional furnishings such as woven cedar mats, bentwood boxes, and baskets.
In addition to serving as an interpretive center where park visitors can learn about Tlingit culture, this will be a place where Tlingit communities and organizations can host cultural preservation workshops on topics such as Tlingit art and design, wood working, Tlingit language, Tlingit song and dance, weaving, healthy living, and more.
Huna Tribal House Photogalleries
Check out our extensive photogallery of this project on
Did You Know?
The Steller Sea Lions that haul-out on South Marble Island are primarily males that were unsuccessful competing for females during the breeding season.