Alaska Native Voices, a cultural guide program in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, has received the Best Cultural Heritage Experience award at the 16th annual American Indian Tourism Conference. The program has provided historical and contemporary views of Huna Tlingit culture with travelers to the park for 15 years,.
The conference is hosted annually by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), a national non-profit association of tribes, tribal businesses and entrepreneurs who promote leadership in education, training and technical assistance for Indian Country tourism. The conference brings together organizations to share knowledge, experience and best practices from tourism programs around the nation.
“This kind of recognition completely reinforces the work we do each summer to deepen the visitor’s human connection to Glacier Bay, the ancestral home of the Huna Tlingit,” Alaska Native Voices Director Mark McKernan said in a prepared statement.
According to Alaska Native Voices, its team of cultural heritage guides shares a meaningful understanding of the Huna Tlingit culture with travelers through lectures, song, storytelling and displays of traditional art and craftsmanship. Guides provide personal narratives, perspectives, observations and stories that allow visitors to gain a greater sense of place while traveling through the immense landscape of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
In 2014, the cultural heritage guides shared the living history of Glacier Bay’s indigenous people aboard 189 cruises by Holland America Line, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions and American Cruise Lines in Glacier Bay. Guides also hosted a series of Tlingit cultural presentations at Glacier Bay Lodge, located inside the national park, in partnership with the lodge and the National Park Service.
In addition to receiving the award at the conference, Alaska Native Voices gained a seat on AIANTA’s Board of Directors. Alaska Native Voices Visitor Programs Manager Mario Fulmer was elected to serve as one of two representatives from the Alaska region on the board. The board represents six regions across the nation.
Alaska Native Voices is a subsidiary of Huna Totem Corporation, a native village corporation owned by approximately 1,350 Alaska Natives with aboriginal ties to “Sít’ Eeti Gheeyi” (Glacier Bay) and Hoonah, the community where the Huna Tlingit resettled after being driven out of Glacier Bay by rapid glacial advance.