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Alaska editorial: Preserve the past

Posted: June 10, 2012 - 12:05am

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

Gov. Sean Parnell’s vision for Alaska includes the restoration of Wrangell’s Chief Shakes Island, including a tribal house and totem poles.

Gov. Parnell, in conjunction with Sen. Bert Stedman, appropriated $250,000 for the project this past legislative session.

The Chief Shakes Historic Site in Wrangell’s harbor is listed on the National Historic Register. It was built in 1940.

Sealaska Timber Corp. donated Prince of Wales Island cedar trees to the restoration.

Ketchikan’s Willard Jackson of the Tongass Tribe participated in the festivities surrounding the arrival of the initial shipment of giant cedars for the island’s restoration.

The old tribal house will be replaced and a new one will include a carving facility, and retail and office space. It will be located on property donated by the Tlingit and Haida Housing Authority.

The Wrangell Cooperative Association, the Stikine River-area tribe spearheading the project, hopes to attract master carvers to the carving facility to train local carvers.

The project is expected to be completed by May 2013, when a dedication is scheduled.

This is a historic preservation project that Ketchikan can support with the same enthusiasm it does its own; it’s the Southeast’s history and integral to the future of the region.

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