A series of white marble headstones honoring Alaska Native veterans will be rededicated at 11:30 a.m. today at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.
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The stones sat near the Sealaska Plaza for almost four years, but were placed into storage earlier this year when Sealaska, Southeast's regional Native corporation, needed to make way for its parking lot renovation.
"The ceremony is a way of acknowledging that they are here, and that this will be their permanent place," said Andy Ebona, president of ANB Camp 2 and vice commander of Southeast Alaska Native Veterans.
One-hundred-fifty to 200 people are expected to attend the event, Ebona said.
Ozzie Sheakley, the commander for the Southeast Alaska Native Veterans Association, will preside over the ceremony. Frank White will represent the Eagle clan, while Ray Wilson of the Frog clan will represent the Ravens.
Two plates of food will be brought out, before a list of Alaska Natives who died in battle is announced. After the names are read, the plates will be taken away and burned.
"It's like feeding the spirits of our ancestors and the veterans," Ebona said.
Lunch will be served in the ANB Hall after the ceremony. That, too, is open to the public.
The white marble stones and an accompanying centerpiece, all quarried from the Calder Mine on Prince of Wales Island, were first dedicated in late May 2002 at the Sealaska Plaza during a ceremony attended by then-Gov. Tony Knowles. Three of the headstones have the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian words for "courage," while the other three feature the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian words for "warrior."
Earlier this year, Native leaders discovered the stones had been moved into storage to make room for the corporation's remodeling project. Juneau Native war veterans objected, and in April, Sealaska announced it would pay to move the stones to a new location. Veterans held a purification ceremony in April, sprinkling saltwater on the stones' former spot.
The Tlingit and Haida Central Council agreed to have the stones placed on its property, on the Salvation Army side of ANB Hall on Willoughby Avenue.
"They were placed in the ground recently," Ebona said. "We're just holding a ceremony to bless them."
At some point in the future, a series of plaques with a list of Alaska Native veterans will be installed near the stones.
The relocation of the stones was coordinated by Southeast Alaska Native Veterans, ANB Camp 2, Sealaska Corp. and the Tlingit & Haida Central Council.
Korry Keeker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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