Dena’ina heritage celebrated

Native cache dedicated on JBER


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Native Village of Eklutna and Knik Tribal Council members along with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers gathered on a rain-soaked Friday, Oct. 5 to dedicate a Dena’ina cache and cultural interpretive display on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The display’s goal is to honor and educate people about the local Dena’ina heritage, said Maria Coleman, Native Village of Eklutna cultural manager.

“It’s important to progress to where Native families are proud to be who they are,” she said. “It has a social impact.”

Coleman said she was happy to see the project come to fruition.

“It’s a celebration,” she said. “We’ve been wanting this kind of thing for a long time.”

Native Village of Eklutna (NVE) craftsmen used trees killed by spruce bark beetles from JBER, said Marc Lamoreaux, NVE land and environment director. Once the trees were cut, debarked and dried, craftsmen constructed the cache on land behind Eklutna, Inc. headquarters, he said.

Most of the work was done last summer, Lamoreaux said. After it was finished, the cache had to be taken apart to relocate it on base.

It was then rebuilt and installed on its permanent site just inside the Post Road gate. JBER provided equipment and personnel during the installation process.

Several tribal members worked together to complete the project, making its dedication even more special, Coleman said.

“That’s why it’s so important to us,” she said. “It was about all of us.”

The end result couldn’t have been any better, Coleman said.

“I feel really good about how it ended up,” she said. “Everybody was very thankful about it.”

The cache and cultural display is a wonderful achievement for everyone involved with the project, Coleman said.

“I’m really proud of it,” she said. “It’s a great milestone.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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