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  • 14. Saanaheit House Posts

    Observing Tlingit or Haida dwellings would excite the senses. A single-story, low-pitched 20-by-30 structure with a gabled roof faced the ocean. Overlapping planks of red cedar or spruce were roughly hewn. A central rectangular area inside was excavated for a large single hearth. A smoke hole was directly above. Twenty to 30 people from four to six families typically occupied such dwellings. Of great significance would be the house posts placed inside at the corners. They would have notches cut in the tops to receive the large log beams that supported the whole of the roof of the house. They would be carved in high relief with crests or legends on the vertical length of the pole. These house posts in the Park are replicas of original house posts donated to the people of Alaska in 1901 by Chief Saanaheit of Old Kasaan on Prince of Wales Island. Designs on these house posts are said to be from a legend in which Raven obtains the sun, moon and stars for the people of the earth. Chief Saanaheit’s original posts remain in the Park, on exhibit in Totem Hall in the visitor center. You can still hear the sounds locked in a quiet dialog of its own.