Honor, Vision, Legacy


Alaska Native leaders
From left to right: Chief Andrew Isaac, Chief Peter John, Chief David Salmon, Senator John Sackett
 

Honor

Many passionate people have shared their aspirations for the park and center. Most said they want to honor leaders who have helped keep traditional ways and beliefs alive. 
 
Those ways continue today among Alaska’s Native people. “In the face of extreme upheaval and change, they have learned to carry forward and integrate their culture,” park planners noted. 
 
The honoring began with restoration of the traditional name. Troth Yeddha’ comes from two Lower Tanana Athabascan words. “Troth” refers to the plant known in English as “wild potato,” which grew near the hill now occupied by UAF and provided an important food for Athabascan people. “Yeddha’” means “its ridge.”
 
The drive to establish Troth Yeddha’ Park began in 2002. The university picked the area between the UA Museum of the North and the Reichardt Building as an ideal location. The UA Board of Regents approved the park in 2008.
 
In 2010, the architectural firm Jones & Jones and a UAF committee developed a detailed plan for the park. An update in 2014 completed a concept design for the indigenous studies center.
 

Vision

The park and center will help guide UAF in its next century, embracing the cultural and educational vision that Troth Yeddha’ has represented throughout its history.

As a statewide academic center with close connections to other UAF institutes, the Troth Yeddha’ facilities will be distinct from other establishments that celebrate specific Alaska Native cultures. The Troth Yeddha’ initiative builds on UAF’s decades-long history of service to rural and Native students through entities such as the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development and the Tribal Management and Native Arts programs.

The park and center will carry the vision forward through design elements:

  • Welcoming circles — Athabascan culture values the honoring and welcoming of others. The park plan reflects this with welcoming circles, featuring exhibits and seating, at each main entrance point.

    At the center of the park will be an honoring circle dedicated to tribal leaders who have provided direction and cultural continuity for their people.
     
  • Native plants — Much of the park remains covered in natural vegetation, but it will host native plants that provide valuable raw materials for the traditional Athabascan technology and diet. The trees and other plants will define park spaces and trails, which will “evoke a riverine landscape where ribbons or bands of vegetation meander across the site, much like ribbon marshes or braid-bars in a river basin,” the plan describes.
     
  • Site art — The park’s prominent spot on campus makes it an ideal place “for an art piece that embodies the sun, wind, water, and spirit of the Native world,” the planners suggest.
     
  • Building form — Alaska’s villages, waters and mountains inspired the indigenous studies center’s design. Enclosing more than 30,000 square feet, the center will hold gathering and performing spaces, classrooms, labs, a library, art spaces, a meeting room and offices.

World-renowned architect Johnpaul Jones was a lead design architect on the National Museum of the American Indian, which opened in 2004 as part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He brings an extensive history of working with indigenous people to create culturally meaningful spaces.

The Troth Yeddha’ Legacy envisions a place singularly focused on Alaska’s first peoples. That place will create a physical sense of belonging for Alaska Native students and visitors, while welcoming people of all cultures.

 

Legacy

Troth Yeddha’ will infuse Alaska’s rich cultural history into our contemporary research institution and create a new legacy for students in generations to come.

The park will honor the past contributions of all Alaska Native peoples and their spiritual ties to the state’s animals, plants and physical environment. The academic center will anchor firmly the university’s commitment to future studies involving Alaska Native people in areas such as language, arts, science and culture.

Together, they will create a welcoming place for students and visitors alike. Developing the Troth Yeddha’ Legacy represents a distinct opportunity to deliver the honor and make the vision a reality. Please join us.

 

Contact and giving information:

To learn more about the Troth Yeddha’ legacy or to make a gift, contact:

Drena McIntyre, consultant and advisor, Troth Yeddha’ Legacy, College of Rural and Community Development, dmmcintyre@alaska.edu.

Becky Lindsey, lead major gifts officer, UAF Development, rllindsey@alaska.edu, 907-474-5535.

 
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