Anchorage, AK. Sept. 10
Our last days in Anchorage were less busy since we switched two nights in Cooper Landing to two nights in the Anchorage area due to the Swan Lake wildfire. Most of Monday was spent at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The elders of the indigenous cultures came together and opened this center 20 years ago to teach outsiders and their own children.
The center offers a rotating, continuous selection of live presentations and movies in conjunction with an exhibit hall and tours of replicas of six traditional Native dwellings. Of course there is also a gift shop, a cafe, and artists creating and selling arts and crafts. We spent four hours here and enjoyed it immensely. I can’t say I could lead a tour now after several museums and exhibits; but I certainly have a deeper understanding of the various cultures and how geography and natural resources have shaped them.
From the docent, we learned again how the native cultures differ, but more poignantly, how the cultures have suffered. From the loss of elders and shamans due to disease, from the brutal enforcement of non-use of native language and traditions, to the enticements and pervasiveness of modern comforts, the old ways which had so much meaning and community cohesiveness have become less known.
Through this center and others like it, children and young adults are slowly learning their language and culture. Even with these efforts, it is a slow process. Some of the culture and traditions have been lost and will never be recovered. The peoples may not have invented gunpowder or nuclear power, but the cultures fit the people allowing them both a means of sustenance and an opportunity to express creativity.
Throughout the center, ten universal values are emphasized. Share what you have. Know who you are. Accept what life brings. Have patience. Live carefully. Take care of others. Honor your elders. Pray for guidance. See connections. Show respect to others.
What a plan to live by. Compare the ten universal values with the Biblical commandments which have so many negative directives.
The rest of our day, which happened to be our 47th wedding anniversary, was anti-climatic. A little shopping at the Alaska Wild Berry store, a local chocolate confectionery and gift shop. The Ship Creek Overlook supposedly is a great place to see salmon. It was not for us. Don’t know if the salmon were down here or what but we were glad we saw salmon in several other places.
We drove up to Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park and did some hiking. One of the trails was closed; it runs by a salmon spawning stream heavily used by bears at this time of the year. Dinner was at Texas Roadhouse for steak dinners.
Today, Tuesday, we fly to Seattle for one night before picking up our Amtrak Empire Builder train Wednesday. Our Alaska 4 x 4 Jeep was picked up and we arrived at the airport early as usual. Just after arrival, Delta notified us that our flight will be delayed by 90 minutes. That will allow us to stop at Cinnabon and a few other places for treats before the plane leaves.
Alaska has been a great place to visit. If you have plans to come here, don’t just take a cruise with a few side trips. Spend some time. Rent a car and travel at your own pace. Buy the Alaska Tour Saver coupon book, you will more than recoup your cost. We believe our blogs will give you some good ideas. Only strong tip we would make is to not travel any later than we did. Our trip timing took advantage of fewer crowds and few mosquitoes. However, most of the places we visited would be closing within a week or two. One or two places closed on Labor Day and we missed their events but overall, late August to early September is optimal in our mind.
Ed and Chris Anchorage Airport, Tuesday Sept. 10 12:30 PM