Huna Tribal House Work Begins in August
Contact: Philip Hooge, 907-697-2230
BARTLETT COVE, ALASKA-Site preparation will begin in August on a traditional tribal house on the shoreline of Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park. The $2.9 million contract was awarded recently to P.K. Builders of Ketchikan (Alaska). The project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2016.
The tribal house – named Xúna Shuká Hit by tribal elders – has long been a dream of the Huna Tlingit who claim Glacier Bay as traditional homeland. The Bartlett Cove area once supported two traditional villages, L'eiwshaa Shakee Aan (Town on Top of the Sand Mountain)and Ghaatheeni (Sockeye River Village). The Xúna Shuká Hit will commemorate ancestral clan houses and is envisioned as a place where tribal members can reconnect with cultural practices and ancestral knowledge through ceremonies, workshops, camps, tribal meetings, and other events. It will also provide park visitors with opportunities to learn about Huna Tlingit history, culture, and life ways. Hoonah Indian Association (HIA) President Frank Wright, Jr. expressed the tribe's appreciation that the years of planning and cooperation are bearing fruit: "The Tribal House will be an important symbol of the Huna Tlingit's rightful presence in their Glacier Bay homeland."
Park Superintendent Philip Hooge noted: "It is especially poignant that this opportunity to build connections between the American public and the Huna Tlingit will be completed during the centennial year of the National Park Service." The NPS, Hoonah Indian Association (HIA), and tribal leaders began discussions about building a traditional tribal house in Bartlett Cove, now the site of park headquarters and visitor services for Glacier Bay, in the mid 1990's. Since then, the NPS and the association have worked closely with a team of clan leaders, craftsmen, planners, architects,and cultural resource specialists to complete the required environmental analyses and design a traditional tribal house reminiscent of ancestral clanhouses. The final design comprises a 2,500 square foot structure which includes a large traditional gathering area centered on a tiered fire pit. An adjacent comfort station will host restrooms and a small kitchen.
The tribal house project is also ensuring that traditional skills such as form line design, tool making, adzing, carving, and cedar bark and spruce root weaving are passed to another generation of craftspeople.
Through cooperative agreements with NPS, association craftsmen have carved and painted elaborate interior and exterior panels and supporting posts to adorn the tribal house. A cadre of tribal members are currently hand-adzing the cedar planks that will be used to clad the interior and exterior walls of the tribal house. Perhaps most importantly, community carving and weaving workshops have served as an important venue for transmitting Huna Tlingit history, stories, songs, and lifeways to younger tribal members. Culture bearers and craftsmen share their knowledge each day with Hoonah City School students, local community members, and out of town visitors in the temporary "carving shed" located in Hoonah City School's auto shop.
The construction contract, as well as the design and carving of cultural elements for the tribal house, is funded through park concession franchise fees, collected annually from concessioners operating in Glacier Bay National Park. The contractor, PK Builders, has 30 years of experience building in Southeast Alaska."