The Athabascan people traditionally lived in Interior Alaska, an expansive region that begins south of the Brooks Mountain Range and continues down to the Kenai Peninsula.
Today, Athabascans live throughout Alaska and the Lower 48, returning to their home territories to harvest traditional resources. The most important part of Athabascan subsistence living is sharing. All hunters are part of a kin-based network in which they are expected to follow traditional customs for sharing in the community.
The Athabascans traditionally lived in small groups of 20 to 40 people that moved systematically through the resource territories. Annual summer fish camps for the entire family and winter villages served as base camps. Depending on the season and regional resources, several traditional house types were used.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center has a reconstruction of an Athabascan ceremonial house. The building is unique, made of log with a sod roof and is based on a structure from Spirit Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. The building was opened and celebrated with a traditional style potlach event on Jan. 21, 2011. An Athabascan potlach of this scale had not taken place in the Anchorage area since 1939. The Athabascan Ceremonial House has a 40' x 40' area that accommodates up to 80 guests.
Text based on museum website
Photo: Michael Dinneen