Lutak, Chilkoot River

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Lutak, Chilkoot River

by | Aug 28, 2019

Lutak is a small community located near the former Tlingit village of Chilkoot at the head of Lutak Inlet and linked by a road leading 10 miles (16 km) from Chilkoot Lake to Haines, Alaska. Lutak Inlet is connected to Chilkoot Lake by the lower reach of the Chilkoot River. The upper reach of the Chilkoot River extends about 16 miles (26 km) from its source in the Takshanuk Mountains to Chilkoot Lake. The lower reach flows for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to Lutak Inlet, a branch of Chilkoot Inlet at the northern end of the Lynn Canal.

The L’uknax Adi clan of Tlingit Indians traditionally inhabited the area of the Chilkoot River and Chilkoot Lake. The historical village of Chilkoot was near the outlet of the Chilkoot River and was divided into two parts. The western part was inhabited by Raven clan Tlingits while Eagle Clan Tlingits lived on the eastern part. The name “Chilkoot” is derived from the Tlingit phrase chíl-li-koo-t, which means “the storehouse is flooded”. The name refers to the legendary destruction of a village, reported having been near the head of the lower Chilkoot River, when part of a cliff broke off and fell into Chilkoot Lake creating a large wave that flooded the river, the village, and the village storehouse. Afterward, a new village was established and named Lkoot for “it’s flooded”. Its residents became known as the Chilkoot. The village was abandoned in the early 1940s and most of the families now live in Haines.

The Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site is now at the head of the Chilkoot River on the southern shore of Chilkoot Lake. The park is set amidst Sitka spruce trees and has 80 acres (32 ha) of land with camping sites, picnic shelters, and a boat launch. The river and the lake still provide some of the best sites in the area for salmon fishing during mid-June to mid-October. Large numbers of brown bears frequent the river to feed on salmon and consequently the road became known as the “bear highway”. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lutak here:

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