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Journal Entries for 2015-07 Alaska Exp-Family (Diann, Dana & Darryl)



Summary: We flew to Sitka.

Thursday, July 9th: We were picked up at 6:15am by Angelica ($65) for the trip up to SNA. Our flight was at 8:05am with a layover in Seattle from 10:47am to 11:35am. As we were flying towards Sitka, there was a fantastic view out our window of the snow-covered peaks.

We landed in Sitka at 12:55pm and called for our free shuttle to the Totem Square Hotel. The van was already waiting for us (and others on the same flight). It was a short 10-minute ride to the hotel. We checked in to the Totem Square Hotel. The room was small with no balcony, but we have a nice view of the marina. As we were getting settled in, we discovered that we forgot an electrical cord. A call to the local Radio Shack confirmed that they had the cord we needed, so we took a walk.

After getting the electrical cord, we walked along the main street towards the marina and saw a canoe. The Sitka Chamber of Commerce commissioned the carving of this 50-foot ceremonial canoe in 1967 in commemoration of the centennial of the 1867 Alaska Purchase. The design represents the eagle and the raven tribes of the Tlingit Indian Nation. The canoe was designed and carved by local artists.

As we were walking, we saw a sign for the Baranov Castle, State Historic Site. We walked up to the top of the hill. There were some good views of Sitka Channel and Sitka Sound. There wasn't much up there, no buildings or even ruins, but there were signs with some Sitka history. This hill was once an island during high tides. Its height and steep sides made it a classic Tlingit fort site. The Tlingit controlled southeast Alaska and this hill was strategically located in Sitka Tlingit territory. The Kiks.adi clan's fort here was called Noow Tlein (Big Fort). They used the hill as a lookout and for defense in conflicts with other clans. Tlingit people occupied Sitka for centuries. They were attracted by the abundant resources of the forest and ocean for their food, clothing, shelter, canoes and weapons. Battling between Tlingit clans was common. This hill, with its commanding view of Sitka Sound, gave its occupants an advantage in battle. The Kiks.adi clan had several houses on this hilltop when the Russians arrived.

The Russians began working their way toward Alaska in the 1740s in pursuit of the immensely valuable sea otter pelts. They forced the Natives of the Aleutian Islands and the south-central coast of Alaska to hunt the otter for them from their skin kayaks. The Russians depleted the sea otter as they moved east. The Russians built their first fort in Sitka Sound six miles north of here in 1799. A Tlingit force destroyed it in 1802. In 1804, determined to rebuild the destroyed fort, the Russian-American Company's chief manager Alexander Baranov returned to Sitka. The Russians found the Kiks.adi settlement here at Noow Tlein (Castle Hill) vacated. They took possession and renamed it New Archangel. This hill became the center of government for Russian-America. From the hill they managed the fur trade. Their physical presence was important to establish Russia's claims to ownership of Southeast Alaska. The last chief manager's house, completed in 1837, was extravagant and became known as Baranov Castle, named after the first chief manager who had died decades earlier. The residence stood until 1894 and gave Castle Hill its name.

After we'd walked about an hour or so, we headed back to the hotel. We stopped at Baranov's Totem Pole, which was in front of our hotel. In 1940, it was proposed that a Tlingit Pole be carved telling the story of Sitka from the Baranov period. The pole was raised in Totem Square in March 1942. From the bottom the totem pole has a brown bear with frog emerging from knothole; Russian double-headed eagle; raven; Katlian; Russian bear; Baranov. Katlian was the military leader of the Sitka Kiks.adi clan against the Russians under Baranov Battles of 1802 and 1804. In the battle of 1804, Katlian famously armed himself with a blacksmith's hammer. The Tlingit leader survived both confrontations.

At the hotel, we stopped in the restaurant to check on their menu and if they had breakfast. They don't serve breakfast at the hotel, just lunch and dinner. But, we talked to Truman (the bartender) who recommended a friend to take us out in his skiff the next day for a tour. We made arrangements with Alexander for the next day (1:00pm-3:00pm).

Then we went back to our room, finished unpacking, rested a little and then went to dinner at the hotel.

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