In the busy city of Anchorage is the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which aims to showcase to its visitors about the diversity of cultures within the State. Opening in 1999, the center has grown to become a renowned premier cultural center and is home to 11 major different cultural groups and 22 dialects. The entire center is based around five major culture groups within Alaska and their geographic proximity and their cultural similarities. The center strives to preserve and share Native cultures through education, language, traditions, and celebration. Through the village and center visitors are able to have a personal understanding of the energetic and vibrant societies of Indigenous people in Alaska.
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The Alaska Native Heritage Center has both indoor and outdoor components to the institution. Both sections of the center provide unique learning opportunities for visitors of all ages to participate and become enlightened about the different indigenous groups present in Alaska. Inside, visitors have a first hand experience while being able to engage in storytelling, artistic demonstrations, native game demonstrations and by watching tradition house dance groups during the week. Within the museum there are three main sections of the Gathering Place, the Hall of Cultures, and the Theatre. The Gathering Place is an area for different Native dancing styles and songs to be showcased on a stage. Within the Hall of Cultures the exhibits demonstrate Native artists. Through crafts and viewing local indigenous visitors can learn more about the five major culture groups. After viewing arts museumgoers can go to the Theatre to watch a variety of films throughout the day to continue to learn more about the different cultures, climates, and landscape in Alaska. Outside of the center visitors have the unique experiences of being able to visit the authentic indigenous village beside Lake Tiulana that has six authentic life-sized building that is open for guests to explore the traditional ways of life of the different tribes of Alaska. Some of these groups represented are the Athabascan, Inupiaq, Yup’ik, Aleut Alutiiq, Haida and Tsimshian peoples. Throughout traditional buildings are artifacts such as whalebones in the Inupiaq site, and culture representatives at each site to provide information about their cultures. All parts of the center work together to tell the story of the indigenous populations that reside in Alaska.
In the center there are many educational programs offered to help guests continue to learn about Native heritage. Through classes, lecture, workshops, guided tours, and youth educational events people of all ages are able to absorb knowledge about indigenous culture at the center. Some of these programs include The Urban Eskimo Language Revitalization Project, Alaska Native Artists, Cultural Workshops, and Guided Tours.
The Urban Eskimo Language Revitalization Project is dedicated to reviving the Native language through free lessons, and immersion camps for members of the community. In the Alaska Native Artists program, this is offered specifically for artists of indigenous background to learn more about pricing, marketing, and managing art in a business.
The Cultural Workshops are instructed by Native from Alaska from various regions of the State who are chosen for their perspectives and professions. Each of the workshops have different emphasizes and students of the class can be taught through a variety lectures, personal reflections, films, performances, games, and interviews. Daily there are four time shots visitors can attend to have a guided tour from someone of Native origin who takes the time to give people a more personal understanding of the center.
The Heritage Center offers a variety of events that are free to the public that encourage learning about the different cultural groups within the State. Some of these events include Multicultural Drumming and Dance, Iditarod Day, and the Indigenous World Film Festival. At the Multicultural Drumming and Dance is a cultural festivity of music and movement within Indigenous groups from Alaska. During Iditarod Day visitors can join the center in celebrating the Native spirit of the Iditard on March 4th. To honor the spirit there will be a number of dance performances and the Alaska Native games will be taking place. The public will have the opportunity to partake in traditional storytelling, view short films and documentaries, while going on site village tours. The Indigenous World Film Festival is an open event that shows a variety of movies such as By the Rapids, Dark Horse, and Chloe and Theo that highlight Alaskan Indigenous culture. All of these events help connect visitors to Native heritage.
8800 I Dr, Heritage Center, AK 99504, Phone: 907-330-8000