The Native Alaskan community of Klukwan heals and rediscovers its traditional culture through the return and restoration of its most sacred stolen artwork, the Whale House carvings which are considered by many to be the “Sistine Chapel” of Native American Art.
Following a decade-long court battle and the unprecedented legal judgment of Tribal Law, the Whale House Artifacts were given back to the Tlingit’s. A condition of the arts’ return was for the community to create a place for it to be properly appreciated. In 2016, the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center opened in Klukwan, which has helped strengthen a return to traditions allowing for the healing of the traumas brought on the conquest. Opportunities for artistic self-expression and the influence of Alaska’s First Peoples are now thriving and being nourished.
The film takes viewers on a first-person journey through the pain, healing, resilience, and celebration of the Tlingit people and the cultural resurgence taking place through their traditional art. With rare performances by renowned artists and luminaries from Alaska and Canada, “The Whale House” is an engaging look at the artistic Native Renaissance of the Pacific Northwest.