June 02, 2015
The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center works with Alaska Native communities to explore history and document cultural landscapes. In recent fieldwork, archaeologists and Alaska Native scholars have been following the trail of Yakutat ancestors, guided by centuries-old oral traditions and indigenous place names.
The migrations of Ahtna, Eyak, and Tlingit clans to Yakutat Bay are recounted in oral epics and chronicled at archaeological sites. A research team led by SASC Director Aron Crowell, Ph.D. excavated at Yaat’áak (Point Manby) where Eyak immigrants came 850 years ago to hunt seals. The team also dug at Tlákw.aan (Old Town), a mid-bay village where Ahtna immigrants settled about 300 years ago.
Field research, combined with student work in the Center’s archaeology lab, is shared in numerous publications, films and websites.