Like so much of Alaska, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve features some of the most valuable wildlife habitat, unique recreational opportunities and breathtaking landscapes in the country. But more importantly than that, it encompasses sacred land to the Huna Tlingit — Alaskan Native people whose ancestors occupied Glacier Bay long ago, before they were forced out of their homeland by advancing glaciers.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve encompasses roughly 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.


Through glacial advance and western expansion, the Huna Tlingit have experienced many setbacks and cultural losses. But despite these challenges, they have persevered and worked closely with the National Park Service (NPS) and other partners to protect and restore some of their traditional cultural sites in and around the national park.

Most recently, we helped the Hoonah Indian Association and NPS preserve a 150-acre cultural site at Glacier Bay. The property, which sits at the head of Berg Bay, is a sacred site for the Huna Tlingit and will be managed in collaboration with the Association. Protected as part of the park, the Berg Bay property will provide opportunities for tribal members to engage in traditional cultural practices as well as support public access to fishing, hiking and camping opportunities.

The property encompasses a large portion of Chookanhéeni [Grassy River], site of an ancestral Tlingit village and the place of origin of the Chookaneidí Clan. It is one of the tribe’s most revered sites and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property. Generations of Huna Tlingit hunted, fished and gathered on the surrounding lands and waters, and tribal members retain strong ties to the area.

“The identity of the Huna Tlingit depends on maintaining meaningful connections with Glacier Bay Homeland. Bringing our youth to sacred places like Chookanhéeni to harvest fish, to learn our stories, to be part of our history, and to walk with ancestors—that is what sustains our culture. We cannot and must not let that go.”

—Bob Starbard, Tribal Administrator for the Hoonah Indian Association

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve supports important habitat for black and brown bears, moose, wolves, bald eagles and migrating waterfowl. Berg Bay also protects runs of sockeye, Coho and pink salmon. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.


Recognizing Berg Bay’s importance to the Huna Tlingit and its ecological significance, NPS worked with the Hoonah Indian Association, The Conservation Fund, and National Park Foundation (NPF) to find a conservation solution for the land. As one of few parcels left within the national park boundary not in federal ownership, the 150-acre Berg Bay property faced high risk of development. In 2018, we acted quickly to purchase the land with support from NPF and additional private contributions. We then held and managed the property for roughly two years, allowing NPS the time it needed to acquire federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). When funding was granted, we transferred the property to the NPS for its permanent protection as part of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, LWCF was granted full and permanent funding, essentially doubling the amount of money our federal partners can use on conservation projects like this each year. Learn more about how we’re scaling up our funding capabilities to take full advantage of LWCF for America’s land, water and communities.

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