$1 million Kinross gift boosts Troth Yeddha’ initiative

Six people stand in a line holding a large $1 million check
UAF photo by Leif Van Cise
From left, Charlene Stern, UAF vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education; Terence Watungwa, vice president and general manager at Kinross Alaska; Dan White, UAF chancellor; Anna Atchison, external affairs director for Kinross Alaska; Dominic Channer, global vice president, community relations, for Kinross; and Aaron Schutt, Aaron M. Schutt, Doyon, Limited president and CEO and chairman of the Troth Yeddha’ Legacy Committee, pose after the announcement of a $1 million gift from Kinross to the Troth Yeddha' initiative on Tuesday, April 13, 2022, at the Doyon Building in Fairbanks.

A $1 million donation from Kinross will bring the Troth Yeddha’ Indigenous Studies Center one step closer to reality.

The gift, announced Tuesday evening, will fund schematic design and bid specifications for the 34,000-square-foot facility at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In addition to maximizing energy efficiency, UAF plans to explore ways to add renewable energy production and carbon-reduction technologies to the building, with a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

“This is much more than a building. It is a space and a tangible symbol of honoring and valuing Alaska’s first people,” said Anna Atchison, external affairs director for Kinross Alaska. “This facility will help to shape and strengthen the future of Alaska Native students by creating a much-needed space for the current and planned growth of Indigenous programming at UAF.”

Kinross approached UAF in summer 2021 to begin learning about the proposed facility and to discuss how a partnership could further the Troth Yeddha’ initiative. The company’s donation is part of its commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Fort Knox mine.

UAF launched the Troth Yeddha’ initiative a decade ago, when university and Indigenous leaders dedicated Troth Yeddha’ Park, located between the Reichardt Building and the University of Alaska Museum of the North on UAF’s West Ridge. In 2013, both the UA Board of Regents and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names recognized “Troth Yeddha’” as the name of the ridge upon which the Fairbanks campus sits. The name, which means "Indian potato ridge" in the Lower Tanana Athabascan language, refers to Hedysarum alpinum, a plant with edible roots that is a traditional food for Alaska Native groups.

The Troth Yeddha’ initiative aims to raise $40 million toward construction of the Indigenous Studies Center on the Troth Yeddha’ Park site.

“We deeply appreciate Kinross Alaska’s generous donation and support to the Troth Yeddha’ Initiative,” said Aaron M. Schutt, Doyon, Limited president and CEO and chairman of the Troth Yeddha’ Legacy Committee. “The Indigenous Studies Center will be a place rich in culture, knowledge and healing for our future leaders of Alaska.”

When complete, the center will serve as the administrative hub for UAF’s College of Rural and Community Development, which includes the Alaska Native Language Center, the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, and the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, among other programs. The Indigenous Studies Center will allow growth in existing academic and research programs, as well as foster new ones. In addition, the center will make room to expand services that support Indigenous student success, from pre-college programs, like the Rural Alaska Honors Institute, to graduate research opportunities for Indigenous students.

“This important project will position UAF as a global leader in Indigenous STEM science and innovation that will benefit our community, state and nation,” said Charlene Stern, UAF’s vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education. “This gift demonstrates Kinross' commitment to the vision for Alaska Native and Indigenous programs that will help to meet Alaska's workforce needs now and into the future.”

Find more information on the Troth Yeddha’ initiative website.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Brenna Schaake, Kinross, 907-490-6132, Brenna.Schaake@kinross.com. Cheyenna Kuplack, Doyon, 907-459-2097, kuplackc@doyon.com.