See 10,000 years of indigenous Alaskan history in a local artisan’s traditional wood carvings.

The Local Alaskan: Incredible Native Woodworking From A Master Carver

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Totem poles are traditionally crafted from a native cedar tree, representing the backbone of Tlingit culture.

Credit: iStock

Alaska is known as the Last Frontier for its sprawling mountains, rugged forests and imposing glaciers. Exploring the wilds of this state’s stunning landscape is a journey like no other.

Travelers can discover even more than the expansive wilderness when heading to Alaska on a Royal Caribbean cruise. You’ll have a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience indigenous Alaskan traditions, like the artistic woodworking of the Tlingit people by master carver Wayne Price.

Here’s a look at what goes into Wayne’s intricate creations and his incredible story:

 

Tracing His Roots

The heart of Wayne’s art is the native cedar tree—which represents the backbone of Tlingit culture. He transforms them into totem poles, dugout canoes, headpieces, masks, paddles and several other works of art you may find in the Last Frontier. The tribes of the Tlingit people still have a vibrant presence in Alaska with their homes spanning the southern islands and coastal regions. Their art, with its signature bold black lines and swaths of reds and blues, depicts animals and mythology, and it has gained notoriety thanks in part to the customary totem poles prevalent around the region—like those found at Saxman Native Village and Totem Park.

 

Saxman Native Village has the world’s largest collection of authentic replicas of standing totem poles.

Credit: iStock

Seeing It Yourself

Alaska cruises can get you up close to Wayne’s art and 10,000 years of Tlingit history, community and ceremonies.

While docked in Juneau, for example, after a tour of Mendenhall Glacier or a salmon bake, consider exploring the city on your own and look for Wayne’s work at the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Hand-carved with a traditional adze—a tool similar to an ax, with an arched blade—Wayne worked daily for five months to make nearly one million cuts on more than 3,200 square feet of wood while building a traditional clan house for a wing at the Institute. Some of his other works may be found at the center as well, including wooden hats used in ceremonial Tlingit dances.

If cruising, and flying in or out of Anchorage, Alaska, home to the largest airport in the state, you can easily extend your vacation for another chance to see some of Wayne’s work. The Alaska Native Heritage Center is home to one of his impressive dugout canoes, similar to the one he is shown paddling in the first episode of The Local: Alaska series.

Should you be further inspired by the beauty of this master’s traditional hand carvings, you can visit a Tlingit clan house in Ketchikan, Alaska to see striking totem poles that Tlingit people made by hand.

 

The Last Frontier is a bucket-list destination waiting to be discovered.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Adventure Abound

Of course, there’s plenty to see and do on a cruise to Alaska. In addition to cultural exploration, you can also interact with the land’s expansive nature by dog sledding, whale watching and even glacier climbing.

While sailing on board Ovation of the Seas, which leaves from Seattle in the warmer months of May through September, you’ll be connected with the surrounding land as well, brimming with mountainsides, glaciers and waterfalls. You can even take in the sights while 300 feet above sea level in the ship’s towering observation capsule–the North Star. And if you’re cruising on Radiance of the Seas, leaving from Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia, you’ll be able to head to a Tlingit tribal dance performance at Icy Strait Point and spot wildlife while along the Inside Passage.

Ready to chart your adventure to the Last Frontier with Royal Caribbean? Check out your options to see the wild and immerse yourself in the local culture by planning your next cruise here.