$4.4M Grant Helps Sitnasuak Welcome Visitors to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve

Sep 7, 2022 | Alaska Native, News, Tourism

Pile of rocks in Bering Land Bridge National Park

 

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve licensed under CC by 2.0

The visitors center in Nome for Bering Land Bridge National Preserve becomes more welcoming thanks to a $4.4 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Natural Forces

The National Park Foundation and Sitnasuak Native Corporation are collaborating on improvements to the existing visitor center and outdoor area. The plan is to create a welcoming and inclusive space to share culturally relevant content through exhibits and digital media. The project will also create new and enhanced in-person and distance learning opportunities.

“Quyanaq, thank you, to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for the generous support for Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Sitnasuak Native Corporation,” says Jeanette Koelsch, superintendent of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. “This is a wonderful opportunity for tribes and the National Park Service to co-create the visitor experience.”

Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, north of Nome, protects a remnant of terrain between North America and Asia, now mostly submerged beneath the Bering Sea. Relatively few visitors experience the Arctic and coastal ecosystems that are the homeland of the Iñupiat people, so the Sitnasuak Building in Nome serves as a point of contact.

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“The National Park Foundation is grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for its ongoing commitment to expanding the visitor experience,” says National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “The improved visitor center will share stories of the history and culture of tribal communities of the Bering Strait region whose knowledge of the land is as profound as the natural forces that shaped it.”

The grant builds on the support that the National Park Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust have provided to enhance the visitor experience and expand educational opportunities through visitor center improvements at Badlands National Park and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, representing a philanthropic investment of more than $12 million in all.

“Our national parks provide opportunities for people from around the world as well as right here in Alaska to engage with nature and understand important history, both natural and human,” says Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “Helmsley is proud to again support the National Park Foundation to help enhance the visitor experience at what is more than a national park but a national treasure.”

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust supports health and place-based initiatives in the United States and around the world. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes.

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