Alaska Native Heritage at Denali National Park and Preserve

An adult couple, male and female, stand behind two male and female children, all in formal dress.
Abbie Joseph, husband John Evan and children Walter and Martha, Lake Minchumina, 1919.

Stephen Foster Collection, 69-92-335, Archives University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Denali region is home to the Ahtna, Dena'ina, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, and Tanana peoples, and has been for thousands of years before the establishment of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Today, as in the past, many Alaskans live off the land, relying on fish, wildlife and other wild resources. For thousands of years, Alaska Natives have used these resources for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, handicrafts and trade. These subsistence resources continue to be critical to sustaining both the physical and spiritual culture of Alaska’s Native people.
Learn more about Alaska Natives and Denali through these resources:

  • Watch a fishwheel being built as elders from Nikolai share an Athabaskan tradition with the younger generation.
  • Listen to elders with stories of living in remote communities and traveling by sled dogs.
  • Listen to an Athabascan legend about the origins of Denali as told by late Chief Mitch Demientieff of Nenana.
  • Learn more about individuals through time (see articles below) including Abbie Joseph’s interior Alaska subsistence lifestyle and Howard Luke’s importance as a Cultural Ambassador.

Visit the park website at: Denali National Park & Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (

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    Last updated: January 16, 2024