By Melinda Munson

Unsure whether cruise ship visitors will come in large numbers and be free to wander through town due to possible COVID-19 restrictions, Skagway is making changes to its 2021 tourism plan. Skagway Traditional Council wants to be included in that new vision.

“As we consider how Skagway will rebound from this global pandemic, I ask you to reimagine the way we’ve looked at tourism in Skagway to date,” wrote Jaime Bricker, board president for Skagway Traditional Council (STC), in a letter to the assembly dated Oct. 7.

“The Skagway Traditional Council has long felt that Tlingit and Haida arts, culture and language have been under-represented in Skagway Village.”

Bricker hopes the municipality will partner with STC “to increase Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultural awareness in our community.”

STC is asking for more representation on signs throughout town. Bricker gave the example of the Skagway Trail Map which could include original Tlingit names and translations. 

“Incorporating more of our language, arts, culture and photos into your website would be beneficial to cultural awareness and preservation,” Bricker said. 

STC is offering to help defray the cost of such changes.

“During dark times, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian ways were systematically removed from this valley. I believe that we all have a responsibility to advocate for the history, culture and spirit of the people and their ancestors whose traditional land we operate,” Bricker said.

“We ask you to share in our goal of dismantling historically inherited racism, recognizing traditional land ownership, promoting diversity and preserving Tlingit and Haida culture into the future.”

Mayor Andrew Cremata said he appreciated the correspondence from STC and is “eager to work with them to promote a more inclusive relationship between the council and the Municipality of Skagway.”

“In the coming months, we are going to meet and figure out ways we can make this happen. The ideas listed in the letter are a good place to start and relatively easy to implement. I plan on working with the tribal council to come up with more ideas moving forward and encourage anyone with ideas to incorporate them at the committee level,” Cremata said.