Birthday of ANB in spotlight
The Alaska Native Brotherhood in Haines has been a force for civil rights, Native land claims and preservation of historic sites, David Light told a crowd of about 30 residents who came to an exhibit opening at the Sheldon Museum Saturday.
Light, who authored “Brothers in Harmony,” a 2002 book on the history of Haines ANB Camp #5, spoke at an opening reception for a traveling exhibit that honors the centennial of the ANB in 2012. The exhibit will be at the museum through March 19.
The ANB “paved roads for Sealaska and Tlingit-Haida land claims,” Light said. “Without the ANB there would have been no Tlingit land claims.”
The Haines camp was formed in 1915. Among its achievements were stepping in to protect a Native cemetery near the Chilkoot River bridge, and construction of two Haines ANB halls, including the existing one between First and Second avenues, Light said.
The first hall, which stood just uphill of the Native village located at present-day Front Street North, was built of lumber salvaged from Juneau’s Treadwell Mine and rafted north by Native fishermen, Light said. It was burned down by the City of Haines for tax delinquency, he said.
The existing hall opened in 1974, attended by a crowd of 900 people, including Alaska Gov. Keith Miller.
Funding for the second building included $25,000 from Jessie Kasko, $10,000 from Jennie Marks and $26,000 from the Tlingit-Haida Central Council, Light said. Light and son Harold Light took on construction of the existing hall in 1967, when the building was just a basement.
Speaker Marilyn Wilson of the Haines Alaska Native Sisterhood cited contributions by the local ANS, including scholarships, advocacy of subsistence rights and support for Native education programs. “Our Indian Education monies helped get the first computers in our school system,” she said.
The ANS has helped keep the Haines ANB Hall open by holding bingo games and other fundraisers.
Wilson also noted that ANB Grand Camp gatherings always include a voter registration station. The group’s mission is to improve the lives of Native people in Southeast, she said.
“I’m really proud of what we’re trying to strive for. I think society as a whole could learn from this. When you’re in an organization like this, it makes you think of other people,” Wilson said.
Joe Hotch spoke about Klukwan Camp #8, which was formed in 1922. He said early members of the organization raised money for a health clinic here and the group also pushed for a boat harbor here.
Light noted that Haines has hosted Grand Camp conventions three times, in 1929, 1975 and 1986. “I’m looking for another convention. We need to have another convention in Haines.”
Thomas “Sonny” Williams is president of the Haines ANB. Mary Lekanof is president of the Haines ANS. Other members of the Haines ANS who were honored at the presentation included Cecilia David, camp mother, and Carol Duis, secretary of the ANS Grand Camp.