The Chilkoot Indian Association (CIA) is looking into buying the Haines Borough’s Human Resources building, which currently houses the Chilkat Valley Preschool.
CIA tribal administrator Dave Berry said the tribe has kicked around the idea of buying the building for ages because of its connection to early education in the Native community.
“It’s of sentimental value to this tribe... That’s the school the natives were allowed to go to. They weren’t allowed to associate with non-Native children,” Berry said of the building, which served as a segregated school in the early 1900s.
Berry said he has assured representatives from the preschool – the building’s current tenants – that the sale would not disrupt their activities.
“If we bought that building, I’m telling you for sure the preschool is there for as long as they want to be there. Education is extremely important to our people and we wouldn’t do anything to disrupt the education of any child,” Berry said.
CIA would not charge the preschool rent, as is the current arrangement under borough ownership of the building, Berry said.
Manager Mark Earnest said the borough is interested in selling the building because it already has more facilities on its hands than it can adequately manage.
“We have enough old buildings that really need to be either renovated or replaced, and so if this could be one building we could take off our inventory, it would allow us to really focus on some of the other buildings that we have,” Earnest said.
CIA would also have access to federal and historic preservation funds not available to the borough that it could use to upgrade or restore the building, Earnest said. Berry has indicated the CIA’s desire to have the building put on the National Register of Historic Places.
Earnest, Berry and several other borough and CIA representatives will sit down to begin negotiations in the near future, Earnest said.
The current total assessed value of the property is $169,500. The land is valued at $86,000 and the building at $83,500, said assistant assessor Dean Olsen.
The building has also served as a clinic and morgue over the years.