Chief Son-i-Hat Whale House

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Kasaan, Alaska

Chief Son-i-Hat Whale House Kasaan Reviews

vances vances
575 reviews
A unique exploration into Haida culture Jun 29, 2012
The Chief Son-i-Hat Whale House is the last standing Haida great house in the US. Raised circa 1880, the structure is where the village chief slept, joined by his family, attendants and slaves. During our tour of the site I learned the slaves slept by the only door leading inside the great house, which struck me as highly irregular. Suppose my concept of slave relationships diverges somewhat from this Native American culture.

We got to see the interior of the building, obviously in great need of repairs. One of the admirable goals of the restoration is to rely as much as possible upon traditional materials, tools and processes. Indeed, the effort hopes rejuvenate Haida heritage, going beyond the challenge of re-establishing the Whale House itself.

The site of the Whale House has been enhanced by relocating original totem poles from the greater local area, creating a wonderful totem refuge. During our tour we learned a great deal about the symbolism attached to totem poles, a compelling subject I knew so little about. Even the carving and raising of totem poles has an intricate history, and I came away feeling rewarded to appreciate this rich tradition.

Although difficult to reach, I urge you to see the Whale House for yourself. Donations are welcome and can be made at: You can also purchase a “Save the Whale House” tee-shirt like my wife & I did!
Kim approaches the Whale House
Base of one of three totems servin…
The interior totems have been rest…
Somewhat frightening, to be honest.
9 / 9 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
aloneinthecrowd says:
Great review, Vance and a very well deserved feature. Congrats on that.
Posted on: Aug 05, 2012
esterrene says:
Congrats on being featured! I'm going to Alaska next May and will have to check this out!
Posted on: Aug 04, 2012
westwind57 says:
congrats Vance, on your featured review :)
Posted on: Aug 04, 2012
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photo by: vances