Representatives from CIRI were pleased to accept an invitation from the Native Village of Eklutna for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Interpretive Wayside art installation at present-day Ship Creek in Anchorage. The ribbon cutting took place Friday, Aug. 16 and was emceed by CIRI shareholder Aaron Leggett, president of the Native Village of Eklutna and curator of Alaska history and culture at the Anchorage Museum.
The installation site, known to traditional Dena’ina Athabascan people as Tak’at, was once a bustling fish camp, visited and recognized by Alaska Native people throughout the Cook Inlet region. In what is now Anchorage and Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson, Alaska Native people assembled along the banks and rivers to begin the annual cycle of fishing and food gathering. This seasonal activity occurred until the 1960s, even as colonization and the military bases were expanding.
The Interpretive Wayside features a woman in bronze created by CIRI shareholder and Dena’ina artist Joel Isaak. She is modeled after Grandma Olga Nikolai Ezi, a well-respected Elder of Ahtna Athabascan descent who married a Dena’ina chief, Simeon Esia. They had five children and established much of the lineage of the Tribe.
The installation is open to the public and may be viewed at the Ship Creek small boat launch, located at 25 Small Boat Launch Road in Anchorage.