• 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

  • Weather

    Weekend weather, March 28

    by KTVA Weather on Mar 28, 18:30

  • News

    Alaska Air National Guard assists in rescue of 2 Saudi pilots from Gulf of Aden

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 18:20

    Airmen from the Alaska Air National Guard, currently deployed to Djibouti, Africa, assisted in the rescue of two Saudi pilots from the Gulf of Aden on Friday. The pilots were rescued off the coast of Yemen after they ejected from their F-15 aircraft, according to various news outlets. Approximately 120 Alaska Air National guardsmen from the […]

  • News

    16 Black Hawk helicopters back in Alaska, ready to help with civilian emergencies

    by Associated Press on Mar 28, 15:20

    Sixteen Army Black Hawk helicopters are back in Alaska and ready to help with civilian medical emergencies after spending nine months in Afghanistan. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1MgUB22 ) reports the military helicopters supplement Alaska’s civilian fleet of about two dozen medical helicopters operated by private companies including Life Flight, Life Med and Guardian. In […]

  • Crime

    Man injured in leg in West Anchorage shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 14:15

    Police say a man was struck in the leg by gunfire in a shooting in West Anchorage Saturday afternoon. At around 1 p.m., witnesses say there was a disturbance between two groups of people in a parking lot near the 1300 block of West Northern Lights Boulevard, according to a release from the Anchorage Police […]

  • News

    Government Hill resident reads found letter from 1964 Alaska earthquake

    by Sierra Starks on Mar 28, 13:36

    Friday, March 27, marked the 51st anniversary of the devastating Good Friday earthquake. On that day, just after 5:30 p.m., violent shaking erupted without warning across Southcentral Alaska. It has become known as the most powerful earthquake ever in North America, taking the lives of more than 100 people. This week, Alaska lawmakers passed legislation to […]

  • Politics

    ASD, state lawmakers spar over budget concerns

    by Joe Vigil on Mar 27, 22:51

    First state lawmakers fired off a letter criticizing Anchorage School Board members for passing a budget that included nearly $12 million cut by Gov. Bill Walker in January. Now the Anchorage School Board president is firing back with a letter of his own to state lawmakers. In that letter, Eric Croft says that while the district […]

  • News

    Amanda Knox grateful to ‘have my life back’ after court saga

    by Associated Press on Mar 27, 21:25

          SEATTLE- Amanda Knox says she’s grateful “for the life that’s been given to me” after Italy’s highest court overturned her murder conviction in the slaying of her roommate. Speaking briefly Friday evening to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home, Knox expressed her thanks “for the justice I’ve received and for the support […]

  • News

    House panel moves bill addressing municipal marijuana regs

    by Associated Press on Mar 27, 21:19

    A bill addressing how municipalities regulate marijuana businesses has moved out of a House committee. The House Judiciary Committee moved a new version of Rep. Cathy Tilton’s bill, which would help define a municipality’s role in regulating marijuana businesses, set a maximum household limit of 24 marijuana plants and add marijuana clubs to the list […]