A diverse cordillera-&-archipelago

Southeast Alaska is divided into 22 biogeographic provinces. Here in Áak’w and T’aakú Aaní (land of Auk & Taku people), our ‘home provinces’ are highlighted as “A” and “T” on the thumbnail, right. In-depth descriptions of our home watersheds are in Áak’w-T’aakú watersheds (Juneau area)

Northwest from tidal estuary at head of Skanáx Aaní, noisy beach country (Saginaw Bay). In 2019, the name of Commander Meade’s gunship that destroyed KéexKwáan forts and settlements here was officially removed, as recounted in Naming our home.. Logging-induced landslide on left. Fossiliferous limestone bluffs on right.

Provinces numbered along the mainland from NW to SE, then down through the archipelago.

Provinces were first delineated by Forest Service geographers in 1979. Thirty years later, Dave Albert, John Schoen and I made minor revisions to those units, adding provinces #2, 3 and 4 on non-National Forest Land. My province borders and numbers are identical to those in Audubon’s Ecological Atlas of Southeast Alaska (Smith, ed, 2016) but the names are different, as explained below

The 22 provinces are grouped by color into 5 ‘super-provinces’ as mapped by MacDonald & Cook for similar mammal assemblages reflecting barriers to dispersal and about 10,000 years of genetic drift. You can also view the provinces on a clickable map that opens each subsection.

Blues: Mainland provinces

#1) Yakutat  ●  2) Lituya  ●   2) Glacier Bay ●  2) Chilkat ●  2) Áak’w ●  2) T’aakú ●  2) Stikine ●  2) North Misty ●  2) South Misty

Browns: Northern outer provinces

#10) West Xunaa  ●  11) East Xuna  ●  12) West Shee  ●  13) East Shee

Yellow: Admiralty province

14 Xutsnoowú

Greens: Inner provinces

#15) Kuiu ●  16) Central Islands  ●  17) Delta Islands ●  18) Sanyaa

Pinks: Southern outer provinces

#19) Outside Islands ●  20) N Tàan ●  21) S Tàan  ●  22) Howkan

 The map below is hosted by ArcGIS Online. It allows you to frame and export your own custom maps. To see the legend, open >> on the left. Here you can turn layers on an off by checking the left-side boxes. For example, try unchecking the saltwater layer to see more basemap detail. Smaller units are watersheds (modified from USFS Value Comparison Units, or VCUs). Click on them to see name, province number and area in square miles. Change the base map type by clicking the 4-square icon. For example, to display hillshade bathymetry, check the Oceans base map

View larger map

In keeping with my place-names convention, (home page) I’ve tried to purge the provinces map of IWGNs (important white guy names). In a small departure from that convention, trying to keep names at least a little recognizable to English-speakers, I’ve retained familiar spellings (Lituya instead of Ltu.áa; Chilkat instead of Jilkáat, Stikine instead of Shtax’héen). My placenames convention is explained at bottom of JuneauNature’s home page. More extensive background on place names is in Culture>Naming places, and in particular, my essay Naming our home.

In 2018 I began to re-assemble the components of my provinces description. Here’s some of the introductory material from a draft ‘atlas of Lingít Aaní,’ called Heart and edge: Biogeographic provinces of Southeast Alaska. It explains the hierarchy of geographic divisions, both larger and smaller than “provinces.” For example, our provinces nest within 2 “ecoregions” as defined by the World Wildlife Fund.  Archipelago provinces fall within the North Pacific Coastal Forests, while the mainland’s mostly in the Pacific Coastal Mountain Tundra & Icefields ecoregion..

Schools of Lingít Aaní

As the school year begins in fall, 2020, Discovery staff are exploring ways to support teachers’ efforts to educate safely. In our world, that means get outside! Of course we work most directly with educators and students here in the CBJ. But all of Southeast Alaska is our home—especially its schools.

In 1992 and 93, Naturalist Greg Streveler and I traveled throughout northern and central Lingít Aaní. We gave school-site workshops in 5 communities (located in 5 different provinces), and for each one, teachers from smaller surrounding towns came in to participate. I’ve recently digitized those old materials, which can be downloaded in 5 packages, along with more recent resources for educators.

The workshop packages, from north to south, are: Haines  ●  Hoonah  ●  Angoon  ●  Sitka  ●  Petersburg. Links to these resources can also be found in their respective provinces. More background on Discovery’s early teacher workshops can be found in Schools of Áak’w & T’aakú Aaní.

In this section

1993 teacher workshops: scouting journal

Notes from explorations with Streveler Discovery’s ‘on-the-road’ teacher training series occupied all of February, March and April of 1993. This…

1993 | Richard Carstensen | 11 pages

A naturalist’s look at Southeast Alaska

Core text for early Discovery teacher workshops In 1992 and 93, Gustavus naturalist Greg Streveler and I visited 5 communities…

1993 | Greg Streveler & Richard Carstensen | 16 pages

Clickable map of Southeast provinces

Hover over each numbered province; a click takes you to that sub-category

Richard Carstensen | 1 page

Atlas of biogeographic provinces (draft)

Heart and edge: Biogeographic provinces of Língít-&-K’áyk’aanii An atlas-in-progress for the 22 biogeographic provinces of Lingít and Haida country. In…

2020, updates 2023 | Richard Carstensen | 44 page excerpt

Southeast glaciers from IfSAR, ArcGIS Online

On receipt of the new DSM (digital surface model) from IfSAR missions at 5-meter pixel resolution, it became possible to…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 1 page

Historical aerials of Southeast communities

In 2011, Cathy Pohl and I received a drive with 22,000 scanned air photos taken by the Navy in 1948.…

2011 | Richard Carstensen | 35 minutes

The Nature of Southeast Alaska

It’s a little unorthodox for authors to review their own books, so I’ll defer on this first one. But it…

2013 | Carstensen, Armstrong & O'Clair | 310 pages

Just before the camera: journal of Richard Meade

Richard Meade was captain of a steamship that spent 4 months in Southeast in 1868 and 1869. I’ve created a…

2014: updated 2023 | Richard Meade (Carstensen, ed) | 44 pages

Reading Southeast Alaska’s landscape

How bedrock foundations, glaciers, rivers and sea shape the land How bedrock influences the shape of mountains and coastal landforms.…

2013 | Cathy Connor|Richard Carstensen | 28 pages