How long they might have been there is unknown. There were people living over 9,000 years ago at nearby Groundhog Bay, but we may never know who they were. A site on Baranof Island shows that people with an unmistakable northwest coast culture have been in the region for at least the last 3,000 years.
Even as Glacier Bay itself lay encased in ice, native people carried on their activities in many places along the nearby coast, places that may have been free of ice for as long as 13,000 years. The oldest known site in Glacier Bay National Park, located in Dundas Bay, is about 800 years old. Natives were at Lituya Bay, on the park's wild outer coast, to greet Lapérouse in 1786. Although a series of earthquake-triggered tidal waves, the latest in 1959, devastated most of the shoreline of Lituya Bay, a pocket of undisturbed forest still harbors archeological evidence of their life there.
The Huna Tlingit Today
Through glacial advance and western expansion, the Huna Tlingit have experienced setbacks, sadness, and cultural loss. Despite these changes, the Huna Tlingit persevere and embrace a sense of renewal. Today, the Huna Tlingit enjoy a modern life, while also embracing their homeland, its resources, and retaining strong connections to their culture and tradition. Efforts to resume traditional harvesting of gull eggs, and the soon to be completed Huna Tribal House in Bartlett Cove are examples of a new era of cooperation between the Huna Tlingit and Glacier Bay National Park.
Among the evidence of Huna Tlingit traditional activities are trees that were stripped of their bark for a variety of uses. Learn more about these "culturally modified trees" that can still be found around the shores of Bartlett Cove.