• Winter in the Wrangells

    Wrangell - St Elias

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

History & Culture

Miners on Bonanza Creek
Prospectors camp along Bonanza Creek

The Cultural Resources program at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve documents people in the park now and in the past, and helps preserve places with special history.

What are cultural resources?

Although Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is remote and sparsely populated, people have lived here for thousands of years. Cultural resource professionals help share the stories of people who called the Wrangell Mountains home, then and now.

In Alaska, as in the rest of the United States, the National Park Service recognizes and manages five basic types of cultural resources:

Archeological Sites: Physical evidence of past human occupation or activity (the National Park Service recognizes two basic subcategories; prehistoric and historic archeological sites).

Cultural landscapes: Geographic areas associated with a historic event, activity, or person; or that exhibits other cultural or aesthetic values (this category includes designed, vernacular, and ethnographic landscapes). Cultural landscapes encompass both cultural and natural resources as well as any wildlife or domestic animals that have historic associations with the landscape.

Ethnographic Resources: Sites, structures, objects, landscapes, or natural features of traditional importance to a contemporary cultural group.

Museum Objects: Material things that possess scientific, historical, cultural, or aesthetic values (usually movable by nature or design).

Structures: Constructed works created to serve some human activity (usually immovable by nature or design - buildings, bridges, earthworks, roads, rock cairns, etc. - prehistoric or historic).

Why save the physical legacy of the past?

Why should we preserve the physical remains of the past; is it not sufficient to capture the stories in books? The remnants of our nation's cultural legacy give us an irreplaceable tangible link to our past, which a book or an article cannot replace. These authentic places and objects are material touchstones to a past that we experience for ourselves. They serve as material anchors to our past and reference points to our future. We can see them, touch them, connect with them in such a way that we can know the past actually happened. Each generation can learn from the ruins, the buildings, and the objects of the past. Each is the landmarks that link us over time and space and give meaning and orientation to our lives.

Learn more about Archeology at Wrangell-St. Elias.

Learn more about research & monitoring in the park.

Did You Know?