Alaska Natives gain foothold in tourism

By Rachel D'Oro
Anchorage, Alaska (AP) April 2011

Alaska Natives have established a solid foundation in the state’s tourism industry, captivating visitors with their dances and songs, their art and a history as varied as the tribes themselves.

Much of the cultural boom is found at cruise ship ports, Alaska’s large cities and points along the state’s minimal road system.

But travel experts say independent travelers are increasingly venturing to isolated villages to experience life with descendants of the continent’s first inhabitants on their ancient grounds.

Camille Ferguson with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska says perpetuating a tribal culture is a way of keeping it alive.

The tribe is one of the organizers of a three-day cultural tourism conference taking place next week in the southeast Alaska town of Sitka, which has a large Tlingit (CLINK-it) population.