Alaska Native Heritage Center wins $3M Ford Foundation grant

Tatiana Ticknor, who is Tlingit, Dena’ina and Deg Xinag Athabascan, with her dance fans. With Andrew Weaver, who is Yup’ik, at Culture Camp. Photo courtesy of Alaska Native Heritage Center

New plans for healing, cultural and educational programming have won the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage a $3 million grant from the Ford Foundation, plus another $100,000 in technical services for the four-year project.

The funds are part of a national initiative of the Ford Foundation, which designated ANHC as one of “America’s Cultural Treasures” to support BIPOC (BLACK, Indigenous, People of Color) arts and cultural organizations severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative brought together 16 major donors and foundations who awarded $1 million to $6 million to 20 different organizations nationwide.

In its grant application ANHC outlined several interwoven healing-based initiatives it plans to create, expand on and implement to create a space of healing where the indigenous community can connect with themselves and their culture.

Since opening in 1999, ANHC has served as a gathering and healing place for the Alaska Native community and facility for visitors who want to know more about Alaska Native cultures, heritages and traditions. Since the pandemic began infecting people in Alaska, ANHC has seen substantial economic losses, but also allowed staff there to reimagine its programming.

Because of the pandemic ANHC is engaged in online and virtual programming, for storytelling, cooking classes and art classes, and also created cultural boxes for K-12 students nationwide.