PT. 9 (MP 804): Teslin Museums

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TESLIN (KTUU) Situated along the Teslin lake near mile 804 of the Alaska highway is the village of Teslin, home to about 450 people.

Although small, Teslin boasts three museums dedicated to the history and culture of the Inland Tlingit people. During our visit, we had the chance to visit two, the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center and the George Johnston Museum.

The George Johnston museum has a collection of Tlingit artifacts, tools and photographs taken by Johnston, which document what life was like in the area nearly 100 years ago. Also on display, the first car of Teslin, Johnston's 1928 Chevy, which was brought up by boat and used for hunting and as a taxi.

"There were no roads here," said Roxanne Peters, Johnston's great niece. "The only road he had was on Teslin lake when it froze over, and then he actually cut a road with some of his relatives, his brothers helped him cut a road and the road was 3 miles long, and it's actually part of the Alaska highway here now."

The first thing you'll notice about the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Center is the beauty. It's located right on Teslin Lake, and outside five traditional Clan poles carved by local artists greet guests. When we pulled up, two beautiful canoes were also sitting near the lake.

"it's very rich in their culture," The center's business and Marketing manager Lisa Dewhurst explains, "and they've worked really hard to preserve it, and just rejuvenate it these past several decades."

Native craft workers give demonstrations everyday, and give visitors a chance to ask questions. "Its a really good part of our program that we offer," Dewhurst adds, saying that many of the demonstrators are also interpreters. She also says, however, they aren't the most popular thing the center offers.

"I would probably say the bannock," Dewhurst lauged. It's the museum's free fry bread they offer to travelers. "they're pretty excited about that and they do enjoy it," she said.