A Return to Homeland: Huna Tribal House Dedication and Open House

Tribal House exterior
The Huna Tribal House will become a place of discovery and of reconnection for generations to come. 

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News Release Date: August 4, 2016

Contact: Tom VandenBerg, Chief of Interpretation, 907-697-2619

Contact: Mary Beth Moss, Cultural Anthropologist, 907-945-1220

BARTLETT COVE, ALASKA –A long awaited dream will become reality on August 25, 2016 when the Huna Tribal House (Xunaa Shuká Hít) opens its doors on the shores of Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park. Elaborate carvings, hand crafted canoes, colorful regalia, and traditional songs will enrich this very special day, jointly planned by the Huna clans, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Hoonah Indian Association (HIA). The event is expected to attract hundreds of tribal members, is open to the general public, and will be simultaneously live-streamed for all to enjoy. Due to overwhelming interest, an open house is also planned for Saturday, August 27th. "August 25th will be a full day of memorable sights and sounds," said HIA Tribal Administrator Bob Starbard. Events are scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM with a ceremonial landing of hand-carved dugout canoes on the shoreline in front of the Tribal House, and culminate beginning at 5:00 PM with a General Celebration and Procession for all through the interior accompanied by the rhythms of traditional songs and Tlingit drumming.

Expected to be on hand to share in this special day will be Senator Lisa Murkowski, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, Representatives Sam Kito and Jonathon Kreiss-Tomkins, NPS Regional Director Bert Frost, and Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior Michael Johnson. 

9:30 AM "Return to Homeland" Canoe Landing Ceremony
Hand-carved dugout canoes arrive on the beach in front of the Tribal House. 

11:00 AMTree Ceremony
The Glacier Bay clans give thanks to the forest for the wood used to build the house. 

11:30 AM Traditional Tribal House Naming Ceremony
Witness the naming ceremony where tribal members breathe life into Xunaa Shuká Hít. 

12:30 PM Words of Inspiration from Dignitaries and Special Guests 

2:30 PM Purification Ceremony
Tribal members will purify the tribal house entrance with salt water. 

3:00 PM  House Post and Interior Screen Introduction/Marking of the Four Corners 
NOTE: This portion of the event will not be open to the general public
Clan representatives and select clan members will perform traditional ceremonies inside the Tribal House

5:00 PM Student Songs, Traditional Tlingit Songs/Dance and General Celebration
The tribe welcomes you to move through the Tribal House to the sounds of drums and traditional singing. 

----Friday, August 26----
Closed to the general public
Huna Clans Tribal House Traditional Ceremonies 9:00-4:00 

----Saturday, August 27---- 
Open to all!
Xunaa Shuká Hít Open House 10:00-2:00
Come and enjoy the beauty and significance of the tribal house at your leisure. 

For those planning to attend on August 25th, please be aware that the high numbers of participants mean that Bartlett Cove may be congested. Located 10 miles from the town of Gustavus, Bartlett Cove has limited food service, no convenience store, and no cell phone coverage. "We expect all parking spaces to be full by morning," says Chief of Maintenance Ken Hutchison. "Those arriving by vehicle will be asked to park at the maintenance yard where park employees will provide shuttles to the site trailhead." To reduce congestion, the public boat launch ramp will also be closed for the day. The majority of the day's events will be outside, subject to the Southeast Alaskan weather. Although very scenic, the Tribal House site is relatively small and participants should be prepared to stand, as the limited seating and covered tents will be reserved for tribal elders. Pets are not allowed on park trails or in facilities, so please leave them safe at home. Private vessel entries are limited in Glacier Bay, and administered through a free permit system. Please contact the Visitor Information Station 907-697-2627 for information on boating access. Space at the Bartlett Cove public dock will be extremely limited on the 25th. On a first come-first served basis, vessels are allowed a maximum of 3 hours tied at the dock per day. 

"We are excited to see such broad interest in the opening of Xunaa Shuká Hít. This project represents a culmination of over 20 years of Huna Tlingit and NPS partnership and the National Park Service is honored to highlight the Tribal House as it celebrates its 100th birthday," says Glacier Bay Superintendent Philip Hooge. 

Xunaa Shuká Hít will become a place of discovery and of re-connection for generations to come. From its inception, the Tribal House has been a cooperative effort between the NPS and HIA; park staff and tribal employees collaborated on the architectural design;completion of various cultural elements including house screens, house posts, and totem poles;operational plans;and educational strategies.Generous support from Sealaska and Huna Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the wisdom of clan leaders, community elders, and culture bearers have also benefited the project. 

The facility will serve as a gathering place where tribal members can reconnect with their treasured homeland 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. For tribal members, Xunaa Shuká Hít, is an anchor to their Glacier Bay homeland;for both partners, it represents the fruits of an evolving - and strengthening - relationship. 

For a detailed schedule of events, photo-galleries, and further information on the Tribal House, please visit: https://go.nps.gov/tribalhouseevent2016 


Learn More About Xunaa Shuká Hít

Save the Date for the Huna Tribal House Dedication

Last updated: August 11, 2016

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Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
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Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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