Clan houses line Angoon’s Beaver Trail Road, a short street that crosses a narrow point of land between Chatham Strait and Kootznahoo Inlet. This area hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years – except that the road got paved and named in the 1990s. The weather-beaten, wood-framed buildings are outward signs of the Tlingit culture that has been maintained through generations.
The Tlingit people follow matrilineal lines to determine groups and clans. The two groups traditionally living in Angoon are the Raven and Wolf/Eagle moieties. Several clans are within each group. In total, 14 clan houses remain in Angoon, among them Raven House, Needlefish House, Steel House, Dog Salmon House, and Killerwhale House.
Time and weather have taken their toll on the clan houses and their totems. Killerwhale House can be identified by its faded decorative painting of orca on the outside. It is one of the only remaining paintings of its kind on the Northwest coast.
Restoration of the Angoon clan houses is a recurring topic in the community and among Tlingit culture scholars. Most recently, repair work has been done on the Dog Salmon House, which is now graced with an 8-foot decorative paddle.