Alaska Native Heritage Center prepares for educational expansion

Hosting more than one million visitors and over 200,000 school children since opening in May 1999, the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) is expanding to accommodate the need for growth. ANHC, a CIRI-founded nonprofit, is scheduled to break ground on the new Mabel Pike Educational Center this spring with an anticipated opening next winter.

The new center is named to honor the legacy of Tlingit Elder and ANHC founding board member Mabel Pike who dedicated her life to creating Alaska Native art, and sharing and teaching it to others, especially to Alaska Native youth.

The community increasingly looks to ANHC for cultural awareness education, school programs related to Alaska Native people, art and culture classes for schoolchildren and their teachers, indigenous language restoration and the transfer of cultural knowledge from Alaska Native Elders to youths.

ANHC’s award winning youth programs have been increasing graduation rates for Alaska Native participants even without dedicated classroom space. ANHC’s after-school High School Program and the Summer Internship achieved secondary graduation rates of 77 percent and 86 percent, respectively. The new expansion will include administrative space and three educational classroom spaces to teach Alaska Native dance, games, indigenous languages and material art instruction such as beading and sewing. Currently, 18 staff offices are located in portable trailers outside the main building.

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Rendering of Mabel Pike Educational Center designed by USKH and to be constructed by Lake View General Contracting. Courtesy of ANHC.