heritage, legacy, livelihood: cultural use of the situk
For centuries, these lands and waters have been vital to the life, spirit and prosperity of the Yakutat people. Harvesting salmon from local waters continues today.
Purchasing food in remote Alaska is expensive. For many residents, the ability to fish, hunt and harvest is essential and the majority of a family’s diet may come directly from the surrounding lands and waters. The Situk and Ahrnklin inlet supplies 74% * of all local salmon harvested for food and customary use.
For the Tlingit, the right to harvest fish is more than just a way to supplement an income or fill a freezer. Fishing perpetuates culture and the spiritual and physical connection to local lands and waters that has been rooted here for millenia.
Subsistence fishing is open to all Alaskan residents, Native and Non-Native. Yakutat residents use set-nets to harvest fish during the subsistence fishery which is open two days a week. Learn more about how set-netting works here.
During the summer, the Situk is alive with people and wildlife.The fish are running, curls of alder smoke stream from family smokehouses, and children run and play while their older siblings learn how to prepare fish for further processing. In summer, the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe hosts an overnight Culture Camp (Haa Yaakwdáat Kusteeyi Yanshuká) on the banks of the Situk, while the commercial fishery is occuring. This camp brings children and families to the Situk to practice their cultural song, dance, art and language. They learn the traditional way to harvest and process fish and local plants. They also learn that sharing of traditional foods and resource wealth is fundamental to the Tlingit way of life.
The Cultural Camp and the Situk fish camp way of life are two of the many ways that traditions, skills and cultural knowledge are passed from one generation to the next.
The Situk, Ahrnklin and Lost River area are part of the traditional lands of the Teikweidí people, Brown Bear Clan. In addition to caring for the Situk and surrounding area, the Community of Yakutat thanks visitors for respecting private land, fish camps and cultural sites.
* Yakutat Tlingit Tribe Subsistence Harvest Assessment, Judy Ramos, 2001
“The most important rule and teaching in Tlingit culture is respect. Respect ones self, respect the people around you, respect the gifts given and earned in life and respect nature. If these things are not treated with respect, they will go away."