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Park Gathers Local Communities

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

National Park News

Port Alsworth, Alaska

 

June 3, 2009

 

From the air, it was clear something big was happening at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve’s Field Headquarters in Port Alsworth, Alaska. On the ground, the spirit of friendship and community permeated the area as a crowd, estimated at 150, gathered to celebrate the beginning of the summer visitor season, the dedication of a new interpretive exhibit, the recognition of two long-time volunteers and a dance performance by the Nu’vendaltin Shadow Dancers.

 

Superintendent, Joel Hard, opened the festivities with a heartfelt welcome to those attending from two of the Park’s six resident zone communities, Port Alsworth and Nondalton. He then introduced Park Historian, John Branson, who explained the significance of the Dena’ina cache, donated to the Park, by Bill and Martha Trefon for use as an interpretive exhibit. Dena’ina craftsman, Steve Hobson, restored the cache to mint condition. Nearly 100 years old, the cache has been used to store thousands of pounds of dried salmon and stands as an icon of the subsistence lifestyle that continues to be an essential part of the culture of the area’s inhabitants.

 

After the cache dedication, Hard recognized Volunteers-in-the-Park, K. Schubeck and Monroe Robinson, for their ten years of service to the Park. Schubeck and Robinson staff and maintain the Richard Proenneke Historic Site. The site is one of the most visited destinations in the park, where people come from all over the world to see the cabin made famous by the film, “Alone in the Wilderness” and the book, “One Man’s Wilderness.” Schubeck and Robinson make the site come alive with their personal knowledge of Richard (Dick) Proenneke and their dedication to the wilderness ethic the site represents.

Schubeck and Robinson received and enduring service award, highlighted by a letter from Alaska Regional Director, Sue Masica.

 

Dena’ina elder, Harry Balluta, led the Nuv’endaltin Shadow Dancers through several original dances to the delight of the people gathered. The dance group includes youth and elders from the Nondalton community who traveled twenty miles up Lake Clark to join the celebration. The dancers ended their presentation by fanning out into the crowd and inviting others to join them in their final dance. The festivities concluded with a community potluck organized by Park Guide, Yvette Evanoff.

 

The Dena’ina Athabascan name for Lake Clark is Qizjeh Vena, meaning “place where people gather lake.” The gathering held on this day was meaningful to many. Superintendent Hard captured the spirit of the day by saying, “I was amazed at the community participation. It demonstrates how far we’ve come along in our relationships and how good weather combined to make a wonderful event.”



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