Traveling up the Yukon trail from Skagway is a journey of unexpected emotion and beauty.
As the tour bus grinds into lower gear to continue it’s climb, the driver (local to Skagway) points out the narrow cuts along the mountain face that carried men and their animals and cargo to the Klondike. He tells of the foolish and greedy easterners that tried to carry a household of goods on their cart; only to leave it on the trail as they ascended the slopes. He tells of the many who died on their journey. He tells of the native Athabascan and Tlingit peoples that helped with navigation.
As a local, our driver told of the oral stories connected with the Athabascan and Tlingit tribes and how they relate to the symbols on totems around the area. The most common symbol, The raven, is a trickster who steals the sun to bring light to the world.
Native Alaskans are either associated with the Raven or the Eagle/Wolf through their mother’s side; each generation then adds other stories introducing animals such as the owl, frog, beaver, fox, bear, salmon and killer whale. Each has a meaning related to the lineage of the tribe. It’s fascinating to know that for over 10,000 years these stories have been passed from generation to generation using animal symbolism to illuminate events in time.
I started my journey to the Yukon to learn more about the Klondike gold rush but I came away with a new desire to learn more about the Alaskan native tribes.
If you want to plan your own Alaska adventure, contact me for more information at psorenson.cruisesinc.com.