Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Chilkat historical society works to inject energy into its mission


February 14, 2019

“Relevance” was the buzz word at the Chilkat Valley Historical Society (CVHS) meeting on Thursday, where members wordsmithed a new mission statement and discussed ideas for revitalizing the group.

Sue Chasen, who succeeded Jim Shook as president at the group’s last meeting in March 2018, began with an introduction.

Chasen said although she recently joined the CVHS, she is not new to history. Her first trip to Alaska was in 1969 on an archaeological dig for first arrivers at Pats Lakes. Later, Chasen moved from archaeology to geology and spent 30 years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Chasen’s first initiative as president was to update the group’s mission statement from 1975 to represent its unique identity “relevant to contemporary life.”

Members unanimously agreed to adopt a new statement combining Chasen’s mission and goal sentences to read:

“The Chilkat Valley Historical Society connects both residents and visitors to the history of Alaska’s Lynn Canal Region to engage people of all ages in the challenges of interpreting our past with a view towards our future.”

The CVHS voted to endorse the History Relevance Campaign, a national group “that promotes tools and strategies to mobilize history organizations around the relevance and value of history.”

“We’re just going to join the 250 other organizations who say ‘Yes, we support this,’” Chasen said. “It’s not going to cost us anything.”

CVHS vice president Cynthia Jones, “CJ”, recapped last summer’s work on the Charlie Anway homestead project, the group’s principle focus since 2004 when it acquired the cabin and more than an acre of land. Anway was the first commercial food grower in Alaska in the early 1900s, and the historical society aims to restore his cabin and farm at 2 Mile Haines Highway to attract locals and tourists.

Last summer, the historical society hired Burl Sheldon as a volunteer coordinator, paid for by a grant, to lead 80 volunteers in the Anway Homestead Restoration project. The group cleared the property, finished the exterior of the cabin and stabilized and raised the woodshed.

Chasen said that moving forward, she hopes to expand the focus of the group to include other projects. At the last meeting, Chasen, Nelson and museum director Helen Alten agreed to form a Relevance Committee, open to society members, with a focus on how history is relevant today. “It’s just tying it in and changing the perception that (history) is nice, but not essential,” Chasen said.


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