The National Park Service has just released this year’s group of historic preservation grants. The funds are used by a variety of Native Americans for preserving physical sites as well as culture. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on the grants as well as an Alaska village making use of one.
In 1977, the US government established the Historical Preservation Fund. Authorized at $150 million per year, it’s used for a variety of history and cultural preservation projects around the country. Part of that money is used in National Park Service grants to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian organizations.
Mike Litturst is a spokesman for the National Park Service. He says over $712,000 worth of grants has been awarded this year, and with a unique source of funding, there is no burden on taxpayers.
“These grants are funded not through tax money, but through receipts of offshore oil leases, so it’s a win-win. It not only allows for the preservation of these important historic sites, but it’s done so without any expenditure of tax money.”
One group taking advantage of the grants is the Alaskan village of Igiugig. Located at the mouth of the Kvichak River, it consists of about 50 people, mostly Yupik, Aleuts, and Athabascans. The Village Council is embarking on a variety of cultural preservation projects, but for this particular grant, they want to study traditional uses of plants in the area. Grant Manager Kannon Lee says this project ties in well with the village’s other efforts.
“Really what we wanted to do is piggyback on all the projects we’re doing now in terms of language revitalization. Recently, we actually did a place names project, so this is part of that as a whole.”
Plants had a variety of uses to the historical Yupik, both medicinal and ceremonial, and Lee says the village hopes to catalogue them in a guidebook.
“What we want to do ultimately is create that field guidebook. Having a picture of the plant itself, scientific name, Yup’ik name, as well as traditional use and even possibly a story from one of the elders to go along with it, something that ties that plant to where we live.”
Igiugig’s grant is worth $26,000, and is one of several awarded to Alaska Natives. Other groups include the villages of Ahtna, Ambler, and Seldovia. Overall, Litturst says the program has been quite successful.
“The program has been very successful. It not only helps the tribes and the Alaska Natives to preserve their culture, but in the long run, that helps all Americans gain a greater appreciation for our country’s rich traditions and cultures, and in that way, it’s a successful program for everyone.”
Additional information on the grant program is available at the website of the National Park Service.