Saturday, July 18, 2015

Native Kasaan Village

A Welcome to Kasaan
On July 17th we departed Ketchikan, exiting the Tongass Narrows, then headed west across Clarence Strait into Kasaan Bay located on Prince of Wales Island.  We pulled into Kina Cove to anchor for the night and saw two small black bears turning over rocks along the shore searching for Hors d'oeuvres.  The following morning another black bear appeared looking for his breakfast but the pickings were slim.  After watching our visitor through the binoculars, we continued southwest along Kasaan Bay, circling the pretty area cruising past the small village of Hollis, then headed back eastward to the Native village of Kasaan.  Kasaan is one of the historical communities of the Kaigani Haida.  
Cannery Ruins, Kasaan
Residents moved here in 1893 from their former village of Old Kasaan in Skowl Arm located further south.  

Cannery Ruins, Kasaan
The migration took place mostly during the period from 1902 to 1904 with the promise of jobs and a school due to the development of copper mining and the construction of a cannery.  Today the village is a mixture of white, black, and Native settlers with a population of approximately 40 people.  
Community Docks at Kasaan
As in most small villages, gardening and fishing is a mainstay of the subsistence life-style.  For staples and canned goods, residents drive a few miles north to Thorne Bay for household supplies.  
Old Cannery Day Pilings, Boardwalk in background
Located above the community docks are ruins from the old cannery days and remains of pilings are found along the shore.  
A well-preserved Wooden Water Pipe
We followed the boardwalk that leads into town and discovered a library, clinic, fire department, a wood-carving shed, and the cultural center with a small café which appeared to be the only business in town.  
Trail to the Totems
From the carving-shed, a well-maintained trail leads into the woods for one-quarter mile which terminates at the site of some old
Whale Totem, Kasaan
Totems and a Longhouse which is currently being refurbished.  We felt the peace and quiet of this special place; the breeze whistled through the trees as if spirits from the past where speaking and time stood still.  

Longhouse being Refurbished
Totem stands tall in the Forest
Here Totems reach tall among the trees in their natural setting without throngs of tourists to disturb their space.  
A Peaceful Setting
We lingered on the beach, soaking in the peaceful setting and enjoying the view.  On our walk back from the Totems, we met Linda and Skip who live in a cute cabin along the shore.  We enjoyed visiting with them and hearing about their experiences as commercial fishermen during the 1980's.  
Linda and Skip
They had some harrowing experiences along the Fairweather Mountain Range in the Gulf of Alaska.  We too had experienced these wide open seas and birthplace of weather in the Pacific.  Their son grew up fishing with them and now lives in Yelm, Washington.  They gave us a tour of their hot-house and garden filled with all sorts of vegetables and fruit trees.  They bid us farewell with the gift of zucchini and garlic, a common custom of sharing in Alaska.
The tiny Village of Kasaan

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