Jim Compton, Michela Raske
The Whale House follows the Native Alaskan community of Klukwan as it 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
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 and in 2016, the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center opened in
Klukwan. Now, Tlingit art and a return to their traditions is helping to heal the traumas of
the conquest, and creating opportunities of artistic self-expression and influence for
Alaska’s first Peoples.
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