Metlakatla Alaska Coastline
Photo Credit: ATIA



The community of Metlakatla is located in the Inside Passage, about 20 miles south of Ketchikan on Annette Island. Metlakatla is the only settlement of the Indigenous Tsimshian people in the United States and is the only Indian reservation in Alaska.


The Tsimshian people have been living in the area for thousands of years and in the present village location since 1887. The local economy today revolves primarily around fishing and tourism. Song, dance, and arts - including long houses, totem poles, and cedar bark baskets - are an important part of Tsimshian culture and are highlighted in tours of the village. Metlakatla is accessible by ferry or a short floatplane ride from Ketchikan.


Most visitors arrive for the day on a guided tour that departs from Ketchikan, a popular shore excursion for cruise ship passengers. Educational and hands-on experiences await travelers looking to explore the Tsimshian way of life, including visits to the community art center, local totem poles, and a traditional longhouse. Visitors can take in song and dance performances by local Tsimshian dancers in full regalia at the longhouse, which faces Metlakatla’s boat harbor. Inside, guests can peruse old Tsimshian artifacts on display and experience the nearly extinct Sm’algyax language through tribal performances.

Visitor services include two small hotels and a handful of restaurants and markets. Visitors who are interested in spending more than 24 hours in the village must apply for a visitor permit.


The Metlakatla Tsimshian have been living on Annette Island since 1887, when Anglican missionary William Duncan established the new Metlakatla village there and residents relocated from their original homeland between the Nass and Skeena rivers in nearby British Columbia, Canada. The village later became a federal reserve, giving the Metlakatla community and other Alaska Natives exclusive use of the land on Annette Island.


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