• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 7s

Historic Dena’ina dwelling site found in path of Anchorage airport expansion

By Kirsten Swann 12:37 AM October 2, 2013

Draft plan for future runway covers house, cache pits at Point Woronzof

ANCHORAGE – A draft proposal for expansion at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport would place a runway straight through an abandoned Native Alaska dwelling site at Point Woronzof.

The site is described in a 1986 study by the Municipality of Anchorage Community Planning Department. The report details a graveyard, a spirit house, the remains of a sweat house and traces of up to six other houses along the bluff facing Fire Island. Today, the site still has visible house and cache pits – traces of a Dena’ina settlement more than a century old.

Steve Holley, a land technician with the AK Carbon Exchange and a Tyonek native, said he first heard of the site several years ago from an uncle, who described an ancestral tent village in the area of Kincaid Park. On Tuesday, Holley explored the area with workers from the Alaska Center for the Environment, mapping several house pits along the bluff just south of the Point Woronzof parking lot.

The site lies squarely in the path of a new runway proposed as a possible development alternative in the Anchorage airport’s Master Plan Update.

“I understand the importance of development,” Holley said. “But to cover up the memory of my people like this really disturbed me.”

Plans for the new runway are far from concrete. It’s the fifth alternative in a long-term vision for airport growth that also includes routing air traffic through Fairbanks and increasing the use of existing runways. But airport officials claim the additional north-south runway is the only alternative that could handle a future bump in air traffic regardless of weather conditions.

The Alaska Center for the Environment has been vocal in its protest of the proposed runway, which would cut through a portion of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and require filling in a part of Cook Inlet and creating a new, artificial shoreline. A spokeswoman for the center said it continues to collect data about the Dena’ina dwelling site from the Alaska Historical Society and other archaeological groups.

Representatives from the Society could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Holley, who said he was grateful for the chance to learn about his ancestors’ Anchorage roots, spoke about the importance of the little-known Point Woronzof site to his family’s past.

“To see where we once lived on a place like the Coastal Trail is a great opportunity for everyone to connect with the old Anchorage that once was,” he said.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Anchorage man hopes to revitalize Ahtna language with new children’s book

    by Heather Hintze on Dec 17, 21:32

    It all starts with a story. “Ndoxe Tiziyaas?” asked Grant Rebne. That’s half of the title of his new children’s book, with the other half translating to English as “Where are you going?” Rebne hopes the book will inspire people to learn and preserve his native language, Ahtna. “Our language shows our culture,” Rebne said. “It’s who […]

  • News

    Alaska Zoo takes in orphaned bear cubs

    by Bonney Bowman on Dec 17, 21:21

    Two orphaned black bear cubs will have a second shot at life thanks to some TLC at the Alaska Zoo. One of the cubs, a 29-pound male, was found living under a porch in Eagle with an infected bite wound. The other, a 15-pound female, is from Kasilof. She was very underweight, according to zoo executives. […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Dec. 17

    by KTVA Weather on Dec 17, 19:34

    Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound Sun starts to peek through towards Homer. Southeast Expect rain towards the south and mostly cloudy skies towards the north. Interior and North Slope In the Interior, skies will be mostly cloudy. On the North Slope, skies will be cloudy with early fog. Mat-Su Valley Sun makes a come […]

  • News

    2 Alaskan women receive Congressional Gold Medal for WWII service

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 17, 19:26

    Two Alaskan women share a special honor. Jean White and Jane Soeten were recently awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C. for their volunteer service in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. White is 93 years old and has lived in Anchorage for over 50 years. Soeten, 87, moved to Wasilla two years ago. […]

  • News

    200 baby turtles rescued at Anchorage airport

    by Shannon Ballard on Dec 17, 18:24

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seized more than 200 live, baby turtles that were being smuggled to China for the food and pet trade in September. As the turtles made their way through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in September, officials discovered them packed inside boots, according to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. As […]

  • News

    Sony cancels Christmas release of ‘The Interview’

    by CNN / AP on Dec 17, 15:59

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says his administration is taking the cyberattack against Sony studios seriously. He says people should “go to the movies.” Sony said Wednesday it was canceling the Dec. 25 release of “The Interview” after many theaters said they would hold off on screening the film. Threats have been made against theaters […]

  • DayBreak

    On the couch with vlogger Cory Williams, Dec. 17

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 17, 15:04

    Video blogger Cory Williams, better known as DudeLikeHELLA, returned to the original frozen lake that made the “coolest sound ever” when he skipped rocks on it. This time, however, he was welcomed by the scariest sounds ever, he says. “I start walking out and then all of a sudden these crazy noises, like the Loch […]

  • News

    Anchorage police seek help finding 13-year-old runaway

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Dec 17, 15:03

    Anchorage police are seeking the public’s help finding a 13-year-old runaway. Kayleas Gray was last seen at her Chugach Way residence Tuesday night. She was reported missing Wednesday morning around 8 a.m., according to a statement from the Anchorage Police Department. Neither friends nor family have seen or heard from Kayleas since, police say. Kayleas is […]