Alutiiq Community Seeks City-Owned Property for Memorial Park

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum is scoping out a site to bury ancestral remains that returned to the Kodiak Archipelago in February. The internment would be the end of the ancestors’ long journey.

Archaeologists in the 1960s removed the remains from a gravesite on Chirikof Island and took them out of state. The majority of the remains ended up at Indiana University Bloomington.

That’s where they stayed until the Alutiiq Museum was finally able to reclaim them.

The repatriation process is now complete. Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed over legal control of the remains to the Sun’aq Tribe. Burial is the next step.

Tonight, the City Council will consider the museum’s request to create an Alutiiq Memorial Park where the community can rebury the repatriated ancestors.

Alutiiq Museum staff has pinpointed an undeveloped, city-owned parcel behind the museum for the park.

Executive director April Laktonen Counceller says the memorial itself would be at the center of the property.

“For practical purposes, we’re probably gonna do something simple and natural. Maybe a circle of stones, maybe some other sort of arrangement. We haven’t really decided. There would be some trails going through it. There already are a few trails that pedestrians use to cut across that lot, and we’re hoping to preserve those.”

According to a timeline in the meeting packet, the staff thinks it could begin landscaping next winter.

Also on the work session agenda will be the Salmon Work Group’s request for funding. Kodiak fishermen are reestablishing the group in order to defend against any possible claims by Cook Inlet fishermen on Kodiak-area salmon. The call-to-arms comes after a recent Alaska Department Fish and Game genetic study found that many Kodiak salmon may have originated in Cook Inlet streams.

The work group explains its need for help in a letter to the council. It points out that the community and economy benefit from salmon fishermen’s taxes and profits and any attacks on the fishing community impact Kodiak too.

The letter also states that the work group is only loosely organized so far and needs the funds now rather than later in order to hire expert assistance before the next Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in October.

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, meanwhile, has already agreed to direct $7,500 toward funding the work group.

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