On March 2, Southeast Alaska Native Veterans member Harvey Marvin applied to the city Planning Commission to officially change the name of Whittier Street to Warrior Street. This public right-of-way, between Village Street and West Willoughby Avenue, adjacent to the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall downtown, was officially changed during a hearing on March 10.
"Nobody really knows why it was named Whittier Street in the first place," Marvin said. "Because it was on Indian land, we felt that we should have had some say in how that portion would have been named."
Marvin expressed the importance of renaming the street due to the fact there is a Southeast Alaska Native Veterans memorial and Veterans Day totem pole, called the Warrior Pole, right next to the street.
"And all of our activities regarding Veterans Day, Memorial Day and those celebrations take place on that street," Marvin said.
Dee Longenbaugh, a longtime friend of Marvin who also lives in the area, wrote a letter to the Planning Commission on Feb. 27 stating the street renaming was an "excellent idea."
"That's in the heart of the old Tlingit village here, and Whittier really had no relation to Juneau," Longenbaugh wrote. "But let's name it something speaking to local people who live in the area. And the Tlingits were mighty warriors."
According to Marvin, the Southeast Alaska Native Veterans had tried to get the street renamed for at least two years. After hearing of the endeavor at a meeting on Jan. 14, Marvin took it upon himself to get the street renamed.
"I first went to the City Manager's Office, they referred me to the Assessor's Office," Marvin said. "The Assessor's Office referred me to Development. Development sent me to Natural Resources, and around and around."
In all, Marvin said he made "at least three trips to each one of these offices without an answer."
"Each time I got a different piece of paper that gave me just a little bit of what I was looking for," he said. "It was a very basic question: Who owned the land that eventually became this part of a street, and how did the name get put on there? Who authorized that name to be put on there?"
Because he could not find the answer at city or state departments, Marvin said he gathered maps and information from each office and studied them for several days. When he came to what he thought was an answer, Marvin said he met with the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Bill Martin, who urged him to sign the application for a requested name change.
The sign where Warrior Street meets West Willoughby Avenue was officially changed on March 27.