- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is planning to turn a dilapidated salmon bake in Juneau into a cultural immersion park for tourists.

The City and Borough of Juneau recently awarded the council a 35-year land lease for the property, the Juneau Empire reports (https://goo.gl/f1BwLc).

Central Council business and economic development manager Myrna Gardner said the park, which they hope will be running by next spring, will feature people carving Tlingit canoes and paddles, weaving Haida baskets and demonstrating other every day tribe activities and traditions.

There will also be a restaurant serving salmon as well as blueberry and salmonberry desserts and tea.

“Our plan is to not only teach our children, but we’re going to share with our guests that come to visit us that we’re a living culture,” Gardner said. “We’re not a textbook. It’s not like those Tlingits who once lived - we are, and we’re active, and we exist every day.”

The park will have a stage to feature Native Alaskan dance group performances and a gift shop to sell Native artwork such as carvings and sea otter wear.

Gardner said the park will create about 200 jobs and will also be a way to teach tourists about the Tlingit and Haida cultures.

The building, currently in disrepair after the former tenants defaulted on the lease a few years ago, will be restored to a traditional Tlingit longhouse.

“It’s really about the respect for our culture, and sharing it,” Gardner said. “We’re very proud people, and we believe it’s our responsibility to share our knowledge, not only with our children, but the people we live with. It makes a stronger community.”

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com


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