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“No actual history here”

Saxman Native Village
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Private Tour on 14 Passenger Shuttle Bus in Ketchikan Alaska
Ranked #19 of 58 things to do in Ketchikan
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Owner description: This unique park's 24 totem poles each tell a different story.
St. Louis, MO
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“No actual history here”
Reviewed September 7, 2013

I was really disappointed in the Saxman Native Village. We took a cab to Saxman because we didn't want to wait for the bus and I never book tours through the cruise line since we can always do more things for less money on our own. We went got to the village we paid $5 each to view the totems. The booklet that actually explains the totems is another $1 per booklet. That should be included in the $5 fee. We walked around the area which is really just a courtyard sized space and read the story of each totem. Some of the stories were interesting but these totems are replicas or were made in the past 20 years or so.

I learned much more about totems at the Totem Heritage Center which was the same price per person but had much older totems and much more background on totems as a whole.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank MissaK1313
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
81 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Totems amazing; tours rule”
Reviewed September 7, 2013

Read before you go. Organized tours run everything at this place and push out all others not In a tour group. Tour groups may have a great experience here. We were independent travelers. To enter is $5. To enter the community house is another charge as well as the carving building. The totems are amazing however and some are copies of other totems that we had already seen elsewhere. One of the least enjoyable totem sites we have been to on our travels. In large part due to the large tour groups that come and go from the cruise ships.

Visited September 2013
3 Thank BriaBoston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Level Contributor
174 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
“Nice place to visit, but don't book through the cruise line”
Reviewed September 3, 2013

Ok, so here's the deal: You can take a city bus out to the village and not waste your time on the cruise line "excursion". The only thing you get on the excursion is a bit more of the history from the bus driver, if you're lucky. Otherwise, you can Google and read up on the totem poles before you go. I wish I had done more research before spending the money. I was looking for something to do on my own while my husband was on a fishing charter, so I liked the idea of going through the cruise line for security purposes rather than going out on my own. Had he been with me, we would looked into other places to go on our own. Ketchikan is a great little town though and looked like a fun place to stroll around, if you happen to get a good weather day!

Visited July 2013
1 Thank cbncgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Turnersville, New Jersey
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Great cultural experience”
Reviewed August 30, 2013

I went to Saxman Village with my husband, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend and we all had a great time. We booked the excursion with the Disney Cruise Line which allowed us to get the full experience.
Everyone we encountered was very knowledgeable and friendly. The dances that we got to see were impressive. They asked for volunteers also--for people who wanted to participate in a dance with them, wearing the cultural dress of their clans (something that other tribes do not allow). When we left the dance hall our tour guide/bus driver explained the importance of some of the totem poles. While I would have liked one of the Saxman members to do this, he knew what he was talking about and was a good speaker, and the history he told us about was interesting. He also explained a bit about the meaning of the totems which was fun to hear about. After this we visited a gift shop that was expensive, but no more so than any other place we visitied in the shopping area of Ketchikan or in Juneau or Skagway. We finished by going into the totem carving building where we could see a work in progress, learned about the tools that are used, and asked the carver questions about the totems. I could see how people could consider him to be stand-offish, but I think he just has a different personality, and after listening to him for a few minutes I found that he is actually a really nice man with a great sense of humor!
The buildings themselves are also works of art since they are made entirely out of wood from trees and other materials that can "return to earth". The buildings are skillfully crafted and gorgeous.
I'm really glad that I was able to visit this location and have some great pictures and memories. I would definitely recommend that others visit, just make sure you get the full package since it looks like the negative reviews on here did not!

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Allison G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carlisle, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Nice totem polls, no history”
Reviewed August 29, 2013

We took the city bus here after an hour spent at Rotary Beach. There are no descriptions anywhere as to the significance of the totem polls nor is any tour or narration provided unless you are on a booked tour. There was a clan house on property into which I saw people walk. I asked about going inside as I could hear drums beating inside and it was clear there was something going on. I was told that you could only enter the Clan House if you were "part of a tour group." We then walked by the carving station where an older gentleman seemed downright angry that people could look into the space through window and glared at us until we moved on.

All in all we spent about 15-20 minutes here and elected to walk back to town rather than wait the remaining 45 minutes for the town bus to return. I can't recommend spending time here.

Visited August 2013
Thank MLC7799
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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