"Sitka ~ Tlingit, Russian & American Melting Pot" Top 5 Page for this destination Sitka by starship

Sitka Travel Guide: 174 reviews and 278 photos

"Shee Atika"

On our second visit to Sitka in July, 2006, I was able to see more of Sitka than I did on our first visit there. Some of this was due to the fact that we came ashore in Sitka where it was easy to see some new sights, but were still within walking distance of the historic area.

Of the several ports of call we were to make on the second of our three Alaska cruises, the place I most wanted to see was Sitka. Although the day we arrived was misty with overcast skies, it wasn't enough to dampen my enthusiasm for sightseeing. Sitka is a relatively small town and one where you can see alot on your own if you're willing or able to do some walking. I found the people there very warm and friendly. Sitka really felt like "hometown," were there is a routine of everyday life and you know everyone.

A Brief Hisitory~
*The history of Sitka is an interesting one. The island on which the present-day Sitka is nestled on is called Baranof Island, so named for Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company. The island was originally inhabited by Tlingit Indians' Kiksadi Clan. The Tlingits had made the island their home for thousands of years and they called this settlement "Shee" and they called themselves "Shee Atika" meaning "people on the outside of Shee." Thus the name, Sitka, is a contraction of the Tlingit words.

History has it that the Tlingits lived on "Shee" for thousands of year in harmony with the wilderness and wildlife until the Russians arrived in 1799, led by Alexander Baranof, Manager of the Russian-American Company. The Tlingits soon became hostile about the invasion of their land, and had rightly suspected that "submission to the Russians would mean allegiance to the Tzar and slave labor to the fur trade company." In an effort to save their way of life, the Tlingits subsequently attacked the Russian outpost in 1802, killing virtually all of the Russians and their Aleut slaves. Retaliation was not swift. It was not until 2 years later that Baranof himself returned to route the Tlingits because they were out-gunned, and so the Tlingits retreated and were pushed out of the settlement area. The Russians renamed the settlement New Archangel!

The Russian-American Company fur-trading business flourished until mid-century when over-harvesting of wildlife cut into the profitability of the business. The Russians soon lost interest after decimating the fur-bearing animal population and sold Alaska to the U.S. for the enormous sum $7.2 million dollars in 1867. The transfer ceremony took place in October, 1867, in Sitka.

The Face of Sitka Today

Although Sitka today is considered a non-Native community, it remains the home of the Tlingits, Haidas, Eskimos, and Aleut peoples. Only limited Russian influences remain in the form of St. Michael's Cathedral and in art & architecture. These influences give color to the local scene and only add to the rather homespun atmosphere in Sitka. As you can see from the postcard picturing one of the beautiful harbors and some of the local fishing fleet, fishing & fish processing is a significant part of the diversified economy in Sitka, with tourism, government, transportation, retail & healthcare services being the other major factors.

Sitka Crescent Harbor & Marina

You see here Sitka's Crescent Harbor & Marina which is probably one of the more distinctive sights when you arrive in Sitka. It is just off of the downtown historic area, and where the Crescent Harbor Visitors' Dock is located as well. Just beside the harbor is an open, grassy area with a small playground for children or a place to picnic on a sunny day. In this picture you will notice Mt. Edgecomb in the background. The snow-topped volcano is amazingly beautiful, particularly on a clear and sunny day.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Friendly, patriotic, a close community feeling!
  • Cons:Maybe overcast a little too often.
  • In a nutshell:Need more time to explore this interesting place!
  • Last visit to Sitka: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Jun 3, 2008
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Reviews (14)

Comments (14)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2015 at 1:55 PM

    Loved reading about Sitka! Wow, 3 Alaskan cruises, but I can understand, as after we did our Alaskan cruise, we said we could easily do another. If we lived over there, we would, and after reading your good page on Sitka, would make sure we visited there!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Jan 27, 2015 at 2:48 PM

      Thank you, Dee, for your visit and nice words. We were able to do 3 cruises here because of a Holland America cruiseline partnership with a vacation club we belong to -- it was an exchange situation.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Sylvia, great page about this remote place in Alaska. Interesting to read about the Russian influence in Sitka. Also interesting to see that the postcard in your intro photo has cyrillic letters. Still some of your tips are seem to be under construction,now since more than 6 years. *winkygrin*

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Apr 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      So true, I had forgotten all about them. I' ll have to correct that situation.

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    May 4, 2009 at 6:02 AM

    What a nice surprise. So much to do and see and so much history & culture. I would love to watch the Archangel Dancers perform.

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:51 AM

    Should you find me in Sitka, I'd most likely be investigating the museums...nice details on the sites here, Sylvia. Love their patriotic bent, as well!

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Jul 14, 2008 at 12:05 AM

    Very informative and interesting page on a place I'll never be able to visit.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Jun 8, 2008 at 6:28 PM

    It's been 2yrs since I visited. I'll have to return..Museums, Historical Park, Archangel Dancers, Russian Orthodox Church, & Pioneers Home are all impressive. What a terrific introduction with such information. Loved that locals are proud to be Americans!

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Apr 2, 2007 at 1:07 AM

    Sitka is an amazing place with all that mixing! Fascinating tips about the history of Sitka.

  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo
    Sep 13, 2006 at 1:58 PM

    Great Sitka page! My other favorite town in Alaska. That is some cruise log you have there. Ever ride on P&O's Orsova? Would be way back.

  • PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo
    Sep 13, 2006 at 10:22 AM

    Great page. It's so funny to see pictures of my former place of employment (Sitka National Historical Park)...I'm so glad you enjoyed it there.

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2005 at 1:39 PM

    Interesting page, Sylvia. I would love to visit the raptor center and see the beautiful mountains.


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