Sealaska Heritage Institute gets support from Legislature

Additional fundraising needed to complete downtown center
A model of the proposed Sealaska Heritage Institute Center to be built at the corner of Front and Seward Streets in downtown Juneau.

The Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Native cultural center, named after Dr. Walter Soboleff, is expected to give a big push to the study and preservation of Alaska Native history, culture, art and language.

The center’s building is located across from Sealaska Corp.’s headquarters on a site that once was a downtown eyesore. It is also expected to give a boost to the city’s center.

Sealaska officials are showing off a new architect’s model of the $22.5 million building, as they continue fundraising to get it built.

“It will be a first-institution for the study of Native cultures, preservation of historical papers and ethnographic collections, and the preservation of Native art,” said the Institute’s President Rosita Worl, in information presented to the Alaska Legislature.

The lawmakers came through with $5 million for the project in the budget adopted this year and recently signed by Gov. Sean Parnell. Together with $2 million previously appropriated by the state, the Institute now has substantial funds with which to continue development.

The Juneau legislative delegation, with strong backing from the City and Borough of Juneau and local and regional group, has been a strong supporter of the project as well.

Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, said the new building fills an important need.

“The Sealaska Heritage Institute holds one of the most significant collections of Tlingit archival material in the world,” she said, and the new center will enable the preservation of that material.

“It will have a very strong educational component as well, the active promotion of Tlingit dance, language and art,” she said.

The building will go on the site of an historic building constructed in 1896 that burned in 2004. It had formally been known as the Town Center Mall, but was commonly called the “Skinner Building,” after a former owner. Historically it had been known as the C. W. Young building.

Sealaska Corp. purchased the site a year ago for $800,000 to donate to the institute.

Sealaska’s purchase ended the site’s eyesore phase. After the burned wreckage was removed, all that was left was a hole in the ground known colloquially as “The Pit.”

Sealaska filled and landscaped the site, removing the threat from crumbling sidewalks and its litter-attracting features.

The new building is being designed by MRV Architects, with 29,500 square feet, taking into account Northwest Coast Native art and architectural traditions.

In addition to the historical collections it will house in both exhibits and storage, there will be research space, offices and areas for art demonstration. It will be open the public.

Additional fundraising is needed to complete the project, but U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has praised it and promised to seek support for it from her colleagues.

She called plans for the center and its programs “vital steps in the right direction to creating a knowledge base of Alaska Native history and culture in the heart of Alaska’s capital city.”

Muñoz said the she hopes the federal fundraising will go well, but that with her colleagues in the Alaska Legislature all it took was education about the project to win their support.

The center, she said, will be an important addition to downtown Juneau.

“It’s going to be a beautiful facility,” she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or Patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

More

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:41

This Day in Juneau History: Jan. 22, 1987

On Jan. 22, 1987, Gov. Steve Cowper prepared to discuss the final part of his fiscal plan: budget cuts. The total amount suggested to be cut by his temporary cabinet was $300 million, which tore funding from a variety of different programs. However, although what propositions Cowper accepted were still a mystery, Press Secretary David Ramseur confirmed that the cuts he did accept totaled at about $200 million. Cowper was to give a speech directly to the Alaska Legislature discussing the specifics of his recommended cuts.

Read more
Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:40

Fire calls for Jan. 22, 2017

This report contains public information available to the Empire from law enforcement and public safety agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent. Anyone with information about a crime can report a tip anonymously to juneaucrimeline.com.

Read more
Sun, 01/22/2017 - 07:40

Man caught with 3 pounds of meth on Southeast Alaska-bound ferry sentenced to 20 months

A 21-year-old man who was caught transporting three pounds of methamphetamine — reportedly the largest seizure in Southeast Alaska in at least 10 years— on the ferry between Bellingham and Ketchikan last May was “a patsy, plan and simple,” his defense attorney argued.

Read more

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING