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Doyon Makes Award for Walter Soboleff Center

Doyon, Limited, has made a major donation to Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) to help build the Walter Soboleff Center in Juneau.

Doyon’s President and CEO, Aaron Schutt, announced the company’s gift of $100,000 to SHI at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks.

“It is an honor for Doyon, Limited, to assist our friends at the Sealaska Heritage Institute in bringing to fruition the Walter Soboleff Center. The intent of the building, to have a place that celebrates culture, arts and traditions of all Alaska Natives, is significant,” said Schutt. “We are proud to contribute to this building named in honor of the late Walter Soboleff, a man who worked tirelessly to achieve civil rights for Native people and who believed so strongly in sharing Native traditions.”

It’s the first donation to the Soboleff building from a regional Native corporation outside of Southeast Alaska, said SHI President Rosita Worl, noting Sealaska, the regional Native corporation in Southeast, has contributed to the project. And, it’s in line with donations made by Sealaska and other Native regional corporations years ago to fund a similar cultural center in Fairbanks, the region represented by Doyon, she said.

SHI will operate its cultural programs from the building, which also will be an educational facility for the general public. It makes sense for Native corporations outside Southeast Alaska to support the center, since a lot of the work done by SHI helps Natives statewide, she said.

“We actually do a lot of work that benefits other Native regions. Our policy work in terms of advancing Native education, Native language, Native culture—all of those provide benefits to Alaska Natives as a whole,” Worl said.

The Walter Soboleff building will feature space for art demonstrations and exhibits, retail sales, a learning center for educational programs, and venues for performances and presentations. It will also house a research facility, climate-controlled collections storage, a library and work areas for scholars and the general public.  (For more information on the project, see www.sealaskaheritagecenter.com.)

The award puts the institute one step closer to raising the remaining funds for the building, will cost about $20,000,000. SHI has raised 85 percent of the funds so far for the facility, which broke ground in August, 2013.

SHI so far has received funds from the Alaska Native Education Program, ArtPlace, City and Borough of Juneau, Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, Juneau Lions Club, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Rasmuson Foundation, Sealaska, State of Alaska, Walter Soboleff Trust and numerous individuals and businesses. SHI has hired Dawson Construction, Inc., to build the center, which was designed by MRV Architects. 

Doyon, Limited, is the Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska. It is a for-profit corporation with over 18,600 shareholders and is the largest private landowner in Alaska.

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

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