Tanana Chiefs Conference breaks ground on tribal hall

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Tanana Chiefs Conference has broken ground for a $1.06 million tribal hall that will be used for potlatches, meetings, social gatherings and cultural exchanges.

The facility, at 9,500 square feet, will be one of the largest single-structure log cabins in the state. The groundbreaking was last week.

''It'll bring back a lot of tradition for people who don't get to live in their village,'' said Lori Sears, a Fairbanks assisted living care provider, formerly of Stevens Village.

The hall will be located next to the Chena River Convention Center on the bank of the Chena River. It will be 170 feet long and 58 feet wide and constructed of 10-inch three-sided logs, said conference chief administrative officer Al Ketzler Sr.

Design Alaska, a Fairbanks architectural firm, designed the log structure. Nenana Lumber and Barney & Berglin Inc., in joint partnership, is the contractor for the building. Jeff Barney, co-owner of Barney & Berglin Inc., estimated the work will be completed by mid-December.

The building will be available for tribal members--those who are on the membership rolls of villages within the Interior and served by the conference, Ketzler said. There won't be a charge, he said.

''I'm sure if other tribal members want to use the hall, it will be available,'' Ketzler said.

The tribal hall was welcome news to those waiting for dental appointments at the conference dental clinic this week.

Sears said the hall would provide an ideal opportunity for Native children to spend time with elders during school breaks.

''I think it will be a good place for children to learn,'' she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Austin Esmailka Sr. of Kaltag said the new tribal hall will be a good place for both out-of-town and local Native people to gather.

''That will be where people go,'' Esmailka said.

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