A Time For Healing (Totem Pole Project)

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PRESS RELEASE – Updated 10/14/15

Wáa sá iyatee.

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce a $1.15 three-year award from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Native Americans, Social & Economic Development Strategies (SEDS). A Gaawooya Yei Shtoosneixhji, A Time for Healing will commemorate and honor the precious souls of the Douglas Indian Cemetery, paved over or relocated in 1956 and the inhabitants of the Douglas Indian Village, removed in 1962. Goldbelt Heritage Foundation Executive Director Dionne Cadiente-Laiti stated, “This project will work towards remedying and addressing historical trauma through annual elders’ gatherings, undo years of silence, document and perpetuate traditional arts, and educate youth in history, Haa Aani, Our Land, migration and identity.”

The A Gaawooya Yei Shtoosneixhji project will restore and preserve traditional arts through the completed carving of two memorial totem poles through the efforts of a master/apprentice carving program resulting in a Native plaza and towering totem pole at Savikko Park and, at Gastineau Elementary School, a memorial pole honoring the people. The poles will be carved at Juneau School District facilities to introduce youth to traditional arts interwoven with education and instruction about historical occurrences.

A Gaawooya Yei Shtoosneixhji seeks to improve community elders’ lives and to help youth understand the past. Elder Gatherings will be held annually to focus on the documentation of history of Haa Aani, our land, and also inform video documentation for the education of youth and to support the health and well-being of future generations. This project will speak to the displacement and covering over of the Douglas Indian Cemetery to build the Douglas Highway and Gastineau School, and the removal of the Douglas Indian Village to make way for Savikko Park and Pusich Harbor. The Native plaza at Savikko Park and the Gastineau School site will include interpretive signs explaining the history of the area in both English and Tlingit.  

In collaboration with partners, specialists will provide education about the language and culture of the village inhabitants who were displaced. A Gaawooya Yei Shtoosneixhji will include full video and still photo documentation that lends to the completion of a historic document and traditional arts manual on totem pole carving to be a living document that reinvigorates traditional arts. The project will align with a major display at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and the raising of the poles in 2017, and will culminate with a community-wide Koo.eex (celebration) in 2018.

This proposal required community match. The Goldbelt Heritage Foundation Board thanks the Douglas Indian Association, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, the Juneau Community Foundation, the Margaret Frans Brady Fund, Juneau Parks and Recreation, the Juneau School District, Corvus Design, AML/Lynden Transport, North Pacific Erectors, Trucano Construction, and Sealaska for their generous assistance and support.

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is the language, arts and cultural division of Goldbelt, an Alaska Native corporation based in Juneau, Alaska.

Other Acknowledgments
Randy Wanamaker – $200 donation

Be Involved!
Contact Fred White for more information on ways to be involved.