Huna Totem Corporation Celebrates 40th Anniversary Summer in Alaska

AlaskaIcy Strait Point, a Huna Tlingit-owned cruise ship destination in Southeast Alaska, celebrated its heritage and the 40th anniversary of Huna Totem Corporation this summer.

“Icy Strait Point wouldn’t exist without Huna Totem Corporation and Hoonah, my home, certainly wouldn’t be what it is today without either one,” said Johan Dybdahl, the former Huna Totem Corporation board chairman and current Icy Strait Point director of special projects and community relations. Dybdahl grew up in Hoonah, Alaska’s largest Tlingit village, on the site where Icy Strait Point now stands and has been involved in its development and operation from the beginning.

“The tourism business has given our community an opportunity to thrive and share our culture with people from all over the world. We’re not just celebrating 40 years, we’re celebrating 40 years of success,” he said.

The anniversary theme, “In our grandfather’s canoe, we are traveling into the future,” recognizes the sacrifice and leadership of past leaders on whose shoulders the company’s current and future success rests.

The early 40th anniversary celebration on July 27 included the dedication of a plaque at the site of the company’s first board meeting in Hoonah in the presence of initial, past and current board members; the unveiling of a commissioned Tlingit button blanket designed by Alaska Native artist Clarissa Rizal; and carefree rides down Icy Strait Point’s ZipRider, the largest zip line in the world.

Icy Strait Point is wholly owned and operated by Huna Totem Corporation, the Native village corporation birthed on Nov. 9, 1973, out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, signed in December 1971. The law provided for the establishment of over 200 Alaska Native regional and village corporations as compensation to Alaska Natives for the loss of their homeland.

Owned by approximately 1,350 Alaska Natives with aboriginal ties to Hoonah and the Glacier Bay area, Huna Totem Corporation has provided for its people through business ventures, leadership and education. Opening in 2004, Icy Strait Point has been the company’s most recent and consistent success.

As evidence to Huna Totem Corporation’s investment in its people, Icy Strait Point is the largest employer in Hoonah, maintaining 90 percent local hire since construction began in 2001. Shareholders hold about 125 of 137 jobs at Icy Strait Point.

“Jobs are really just the tip of the iceberg,” said Icy Strait Point Facilities Manager Paul Johanson, who grew up in Hoonah and started working at Icy Strait Point as a port engineer’s helper in 1994.  He now supervises a staff of 28, responsible for the popular ZipRider attraction and facility operations. “We have staff who have traveled to Switzerland for training. We have local artists selling their work to an international audience each summer. And we’re donating the proceeds of a gift shop operated by local high school kids back to their school’s activities program. These are examples of the doors that Icy Strait Point opens for our community.”

Located 50 miles west of Juneau and 22 miles south of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Icy Strait Point is the only privately owned cruise ship destination in Southeast Alaska. The former Hoonah Packing Co. Cannery building complex was restored to house the destination’s museum, gift shops, restaurants and theater. Guests can take part in 23 guided shore excursions on site.


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