Thursday, Jun 4, 2009
Port Alsworth, Alaska
June 3, 2009
From the air, it was clear something big was happening at Lake Clark National Park and Preserveâs 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 Nuâvendaltin Shadow Dancers.
Superintendent, Joel Hard, opened the festivities with a heartfelt welcome to those attending from two of the Parkâs six resident zone communities, Port Alsworth and Nondalton. He then introduced Park Historian, John Branson, who explained the significance of the Denaâina cache, donated to the Park, by Bill and Martha Trefon for use as an interpretive exhibit. Denaâina 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 areaâs 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, âAlone in the Wildernessâ and the book, âOne Manâs Wilderness.â 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.
Denaâina elder, Harry Balluta, led the Nuvâendaltin 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 Denaâina Athabascan name for Lake Clark is Qizjeh Vena, meaning âplace where people gather lake.â The gathering held on this day was meaningful to many. Superintendent Hard captured the spirit of the day by saying, âI was amazed at the community participation. It demonstrates how far weâve come along in our relationships and how good weather combined to make a wonderful event.â