Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Porter dug into Tlingit mythology


Walter Porter

Walter Porter, a well-known Tlingit mythologist who lived in Haines as a youth, died Nov. 7 in Anchorage.

Porter grew up in Yakutat, and came to Haines in 1956 to attend school. He lived at Haines House and graduated from Haines High School in 1962.

According to his website, Porter joined the Chilkat Dancers in Haines, performing dances that were Tlingit mythologies. More than 20 years later, while performing as host of the Tlingit performance "Box of Daylight," he recognized similarities between "Box of Daylight" and other spiritual information he'd been studying for years.

According to Porter's website, "He has since then put together presentations showing how elders understood these stories and how they successfully used them to develop leadership, social, economic and healing skills to build strong and stable communities."

He became a storyteller and lecturer and also served the Yakutat tribe in tourism and cultural positions.

Alaska Indian Arts president Lee Heinmiller said Porter was a lead dancer who played the main shaman's role in an era when the Chilkat Dancers traveled and performed around the country. Porter also played guitar in a high school rock band here.

"Walter has been called the Joseph Campbell of Alaska for his lectures on spirituality, culture and belief systems," Heinmiller said. Porter also served as the double for Jack Lord on the popular Hawaii 5-0 TV show. "He was bartending in Hawaii when they discovered him, and as far as I know that's his only dramatic role outside of the 'Box of Daylight' video," Heinmiller said.

  Letters may be sent to the family at Tlinkimo, Box 257, Yakutat, AK 99689.


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