Indigenous Place Making Movement Opening Ceremony

Dena’ina Place Making
Opening Ceremony
Tuesday, August 3 at 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Westchester Lagoon (1824 W 15th Ave)

On behalf of Aaron Leggett, President and Chair of the Native Village of Eklutna, please mark your calendar for a celebration of Dena’ina artistic place making at one of Anchorage’s most beautiful public parks. The ceremony will feature performances by Dena’ina artists and speakers including Eklutna President Aaron Leggett, Mayor Bronson, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan, and artist Melissa Shaginoff. We encourage everyone attending this outdoor event to look out for one another, especially our Elders and children and help keep them safe. Masks will be available and encouraged. A video will be shared following the event for all to enjoy.

The theme chosen for the Indigenous Place Making project is the Firebag. In Dena’ina it means “in it are things,” representing a symbol of strength and survival for the Dena’ina people. It was an object that was very special because of the materials it was made from and who it was bestowed upon. The new plaza on the lagoon features artwork by Athabascan & Paiute artist Melissa Shaginoff. Her metal sculpture encircling the post is inspired by the dentalium bead pattern of the Firebag. Chanshtnu is the Dena’ina word for Grass Creek, now known as Chester Creek. The sign also features Dena’ina phrases – “You are walking on Dena’ina land” and “Living with the Outdoors.” Athabascan artist and linguist Joel Isaak helped shape the themes and phrases for the project. The artists were hired by a committee assembled by Aaron Leggett and the Anchorage Park Foundation and funded through a generous gift from Rasmuson Foundation. Learn more about the Indigenous Place Making Project.

For more information, please watch this video produced by Jesse Darling, Amaguq Media

Thank you to the 2021 Indigenous Place Names Advisory Committee
Aaron Leggett, Native Village of Eklutna & Anchorage Museum
Emily Edenshaw – Alaska Native Heritage Center
Shyanne Beatty – Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Native Justice Center
Melissa Shaginoff – Artist
Josh Durand – Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation
Beth Nordlund – Anchorage Park Foundation
Diana Rhoades – Anchorage Park Foundation
Forrest Dunbar – Anchorage Assembly
Kelsey Potdevin – APF Board Member and
Francisca Demoski – Bristol Bay Native Corporation
Mischa Ellanna – Bristol Bay Native Corporation
Carol Gore – Cook Inlet Housing Authority
Tyler Robinson – Cook Inlet Housing Authority
Barbara Donatelli – Cook Inlet Regional, Inc.
Jacqui Igluġuq Lamber – First Alaskans Institute
La quen náay Liz Medicine Crow – First Alaskans Institute
Sarah Barton – Providence Alaska Region Board
Roy Agloinga – Rasmuson Foundation
Michael Fredericks – SALT
Jaylene Peterson-Nyren – Southcentral Foundation
Cassandra Villa – Southcentral Foundation
Angela Michaud – Southcentral Foundation
Joe Linden – Southcentral Foundation
Holly Spoth-Torres – Huddle
Bri Keifer – Huddle
Valerie Davidson – Alaska Native Tribal Health ConsortiumFinancial support was provided by Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Humanities Forum, Anchorage Park Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, National Recreation and Parks Association and federal CARES Act.