Home to over 9000 people, nestled at the foot of the glacial mountains, and on the outer coast of Alaska’s Inside Passage, Sitka is a great place to live and visit. If you’re planning to take a trip to Sitka, be prepared to arrive by sea or air! The town is full of personality and has over 22 buildings and sites on the National Register of Historic Places. With that said, the history of Sitka is even more breathtaking. Learn about the Tlingit legend, Mount Edgecumbe, and the natives who once called it home in today’s blog.

Sitka’s History

Sitka was unearthed as the ice that covered much of Alaska began to recede. According to the Tlingit legend, the 3200-foot tall dormant volcano Mount Edgecumbe brought the original native Tlingit Indians to Sitka over 10,000 years ago.

The Tlingit tribe developed practical ways of surviving the islands long before the Russians arrived. They relied mainly on the ocean for food and supplemented with berries and game. In 1804, the Russians overpowered the Tlingit and took over their land, but by 1821 the Russians needed the expertise of the native people.

A photo of Mount Edgecumbe in Alaska

Sitka National Historical Park

If you are looking to visit the site of the battle between the Russians and the Tlingit Indians in 1804, plan a visit to Sitka National Historical Park. While visiting the park, you can also visit the Russian Bishop’s House, plenty of trails, and have a look at the totem poles. Totem poles from the Tlingit and Haida areas line most of the park’s scenic coastal trails.

The totem poles in the area tell a story and have changed since they were first placed there over 100 years ago. Over the years, they have had to be patched, painted, and eventually recarved. Although most of the original totem poles are gone, their story still lives on. They display the heritage that once inhabited the land, and provide visitors and residents a tangible link to the past of Sitka.

The Trader Legend Totem Pole

Sitka Tribe of Alaska

Historical tourism is high for visitors in Sitka. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska operates their tours of the area focused on the history and culture of the Tlingit natives. Over 16% of the population here is of Tlingit ancestry, which contributes to the diversity and traditions of the town that go back thousands of years.

Other Places To Visit

If you are looking for more historical places to visit in Sitka, that will show more of the Tlingit past or the Russians. We recommend visiting the Sitka Historical Museum. It is covered in artifacts and documents and is open all year long. We also advise catching a performance by the New Archangel Dancers during the summer peak season as they perform Russian folk dances.

The Russian Block House is a blockhouse replica that separated the Russian and Tlingit sections following the battle in 1804. This is located on the north side of the Pioneer Home on Kaitlin Street. Our little shops in town also offer many artifacts and relics of the past. Also, be sure to enjoy all the outdoor activities while in Sitka, such as fishing, kayaking trips, and trail hiking.

For Overnight Stays

If you are looking for a place to stay overnight while visiting Sitka, we have room for you at the Sitka Hotel. Located downtown on Lincoln Street, we are close to all the shops, stores, and luxury restaurants. They are within walking distance.

We also offer shuttle services to and from the airport for your convenience. For more information about booking a reservation give us a call at 907-747-3288.