Alaska Native youth practice traditional dance in the Alaska Native Heritage event space.

Cultural Tourism

Cultural Tourism in Alaska takes on many forms. It can be Native and tribally owned businesses, cultural centers, and museums; it might be Native artists and storytellers; it may be unforgettable Alaskan excursions, like walking tours, cruises, guided hunting and fishing; it could be unique experiences with Native food and art.

However, the heart, the root of cultural tourism, is much more than that. It’s the perpetuation of our ways of life; it is healing; language revitalization; it is the accurate telling of Alaska Native history; it’s our youth knowing they are part of a community that is living and vibrant, with a robust future, and that we have had and still have a powerful story and experience to share.

In its simplest form, cultural tourism in Alaska creates a space for the Alaska Native community to learn more about their own cultures by sharing our traditions, stories, values, knowledge, and ways of life.

Cultural tourism exists in every region in our state. Although some communities are more invested than others, cultural tourism is alive and growing in Alaska.

For the last several years, the Alaska Native Heritage Center has proudly co-led a statewide cultural tourism workgroup dedicated to identifying cultural tourism successes and barriers. We have worked with our partners across Alaska to enhance cultural tourism businesses’ capacity building at a community level.

This work creates jobs, brings in outside revenue, raises Alaska’s global profile, and increases economic diversity at local levels and across the state. It also enriches and increases cultural connection, understanding, and respect, building empathy and relationships in our Alaska communities.

ANHC has also secured federal funds through the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, to support the development of the first statewide 5-year Alaska Native cultural tourism plan. ANHC is also in the beginning stages of creating the first statewide Cultural Tourism Economic Impact Report. Additionally, ANHC has submitted proposals to other federal agencies with the goal of advancing rural communities and our state.

Most recently, ANHC has worked in partnership with the Alaska Travel Industry Association to advance tourism and cultural tourism.

Here at ANHC, we say cultural tourism is a sleeping giant in Alaska – an untapped resource that has the potential to change perceptions, lives, and communities. We’re extremely proud of our ongoing work, and invite you to work in partnership with us as we continue to try and reshape Alaska’s tourism industry.

If you would like to become more involved in cultural tourism, please contact ANHC President and CEO Emily Edenshaw. Her email is eedenshaw@alaskanative.net.

Together, we can create the change we want to see for our communities.