An eagle, a moose, a bear and birds–there are more than 15 different animals throughout our exhibits. Kids of all ages can enjoy a self-directed I SPY Scavenger Hunt anytime. Check with the Rangers at the Alaska Public Lands Information counter for your own I SPY worksheet, and see what you can spy with your little eye!
Make your own porcupine quill earrings with an Alaska Native artist, or choose your colors and watch your earrings come together. June – Sept, Monday – Friday, 9am-6pm. Information: 907.459.3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to the help of more than a thousand generous donors and dedicated volunteers, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center has successfully completed a capital campaign that raised $29.3 million to build the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. After nearly two decades of planning, the effort officially came to a close today with the fulfillment of pledges made by Sumitomo Pogo and Kinross Fort Knox. Last Summer, Fort Knox and Pogo gold mines challenged the community to come together to raise the final $175,000 necessary to complete the campaign – promising to match each donation that came in until the goal was met. Today both mines made good on that pledge, presenting a total of $87,500 ($43,750 each) which amounted to their half of the mining match challenge.
“Both Pogo and Fort Knox wanted to jump in at the end to help complete this great project,” said Lorna Shaw, External Affairs Manager with Sumitomo Pogo. “We felt the Mining Match was a way we could encourage the community to get involved. Everyone I know believes the Center is a real jewel for our community, and both companies are very proud to have played a part in making it happen.”
It was a $25,000 gift from ConocoPhillips presented last month that actually took the mining match campaign over the top. Scott Jepson, VP of External Affairs at ConocoPhillips presented the final mining match gift to Morris Thompson Center President Charlene Marth at the Doyon annual meeting. “This was a special milestone for us because in 2004 Doyon made the first major gift to the campaign,” said Marth. “At the end, it was ConocoPhillips made the final gift that took us over the top.”
Marth, who is the late Morris Thompson’s niece, said, “This facility really does embody my Uncle. He was a bridge between cultures, this facility provides that. He brought people together, this center does that. He talked about being world class, this building is that!”
A Leadership Team made up of 28 volunteers from across Alaska was committed to raising funds to complete the building with zero debt, which is what makes operating costs affordable to the lease-holding partners. The $29,334,112 raised for planning, land purchase, construction and exhibit installation included a combination of federal ($16.7M), state ($7.6M), Fairbanks North Star Borough ($250,000) and private ($4.7M) funds. The project required a small line of credit during the construction phase, but that has been paid off and the Center is now debt free.
It was the late Senator Ted Stevens who first challenged the project partners to show how they could afford to operate the building once it was built. “The Senator always told us that we shouldn’t rely on state or federal funds to operate,” said Executive Director Cindy Schumaker. “The high cost of energy makes it tough, but with nearly five years under our belt, we’re doing it.”
If part of cultural expression is the preparing and sharing of traditional foods, then TCC Cultural Programs department is doing things right. Dixie Alexander, Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs Director, created the Taste of Alaska program where traditional foods are shared with small private groups. Alexander grew up in a traditional subsistence lifestyle in Fort Yukon cooking for her 12 brothers and sisters, so cooking comes natural for her. “While my guests are enjoying soup, I am explaining how we show respect for the animal by using all of its parts,” says Alexander. “We eat the meat, use the bones for tools, tendons for sinew, the hide becomes our clothes, the bladder bag becomes our traditional ‘tupperware’ – even the head is a delicacy.”
The unique experience is appreciated. Alexander recently prepared a meal that featured salmon dip, baked King salmon steaks, and frybread with blueberry jam. “The lunch was out of this world!” said Matt Rogers, Interim Director at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center. “We are in the midst of recruiting new staff for the clinic, and the meal was the BEST recruitment activity we could ever hope to provide.”
In 2011, the Alaska State Council on the Arts chose Dixie Alexander to be among an elite group of Athabascan Indians recognized as ‘living cultural treasures.’ Each was chose for their work to relay their way of life to a new generation of Athabascan children and community members. It is exactly this skill that is allowing the Taste of Alaska program to flourish under Alexander’s leadership.
If you are interested in learning more about the Taste of Alaska program, or booking a meal of your own, contact Dixie at 907.459.3740.
ConocoPhillips Alaska presented a $25,000 donation to the Morris Thompson Center in March 2012. This was the oil company’s third gift to the Center, and brings ConocoPhillips’ total donation to $105,000. Jarrot Handy, Vice President of North Slope Operations (center) and Mary Gibbs, Director of Philanthropy (left) presented the gift to Morris Thompson Center’s Board President Charlene Marth (right). Handy said, “I can see why the Center is such a source of pride to your community and a tribute to a beloved leader.”
Join Trimble Gilbert, Bill Stevens, Pete Peters and other fiddlers for a traditional Gwich’in Fiddle Party. Celebrate with traditional favorites like the Duck Dance, Rabbit Dance, Double Jig, Hankerchief Dance, and Two-Step.
March 15 & 16, 2012 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m at the Morris Thompson Center
Admission is $10. Proceeds benefit TCC Cultural Programs Department.
For more info, call Dixie Alexander at 907.459.3740 or email@example.com
Wells Fargo presented a check for $50,000 today to help complete the final phase of our exhibits. Darren Franz, Wells Fargo Northern Alaska District President, presented the check to MTCVC Board Treasurer Brian Ridley during a Tanana Chiefs Conference board meeting.
“Wells Fargo is thrilled to support the Morris Thompson Center in its mission to celebrate Athabascan culture, promote economic development and foster cultural understanding in the Interior,” said Franz. “This is an investment in the future of Interior Alaska. We believe we’re only as strong as the communities we serve.”
In 2010, Wells Fargo gave $5,000 directly to support the creation and growth of Alaska Native Cultural programs within the Center. This new gift demonstrates support for the continued growth of these programs that celebrate and preserve the rich Athabascan heritage of Interior Alaska’s first people.
The majority of the Center’s exhibits opened in 2009, however one section was put on hold due to lack of funding. “As a partnership of three non-profit organizations, we’ve taken it slow and moved forward when funding is secure,” said Ridley. “This gift from Wells Fargo is extremely important because it jumpstarts the final effort to complete our exhibits,” said Ridley. According to Ridley, the exhibits that are already installed tell the story of ‘how we live’ in Interior Alaska. The next phase continues that story with a focus on the visitor to Alaska – helping them experience how we live and what we do.
The Wells Fargo donation brings the total raised for the MTCVC project to $29,055,000, with an estimated $200,000 still needed. Construction of the MTCVC facility and Phase I of the exhibits was funded with a combination of federal ($16.7M), state ($7.6M), and private ($4.4M) funds. The project required a small line of credit during the construction phase, but that has been paid off and the Center is now debt free.
More than 100,000 people visited the Center in 2010, and 2011 is keeping pace with last year. According to MTCVC Executive Director, the positive response is overwhelming. “Visitors rave about the friendly staff that help them plan their trip, and Alaskans love the exhibits,” said Schumaker. “It’s music to our ears when a local resident tells us we’ve gotten it right.”
Wells Fargo invested $186,000 in more than 30 nonprofits and schools in Interior Alaska in 2011. In addition, Wells Fargo team members in Fairbanks pledged $24,000 to local charities during the company’s annual Community Support Campaign in September. Each year, Wells Fargo invests $1.5 million in more than 280 nonprofits and schools in Alaska. Wells Fargo’s Alaska team members logged a record 10,100 volunteer hours in 2010.
Calling all young fiddler and guitar players! The Young Native Fiddlers are currently on summer vacation, but will start fiddle and guitar lessons again in mid-September for the 2013-2014 season. Practice is every Saturday (Sept – April) from 11am-1pm here at the Morris Thompson Center. School aged children (2nd – 12th grade) are welcome. Contact Angel Ambrose 907.388.6308 or Maryanne Allan 907.590.1711 for more information.
The Morris Thompson Center has delivered more than 100 pounds of fresh, healthy vegetables to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank so far this summer. Facility Manager Jason Faris doubles as a ‘master gardener’ to care for the Center’s flowers and historic garden. “Since the garden sits next to our historic cabin, all our vegetables are ones that were grown in Fairbanks in 1915,” says Faris. “If you didn’t find it here then, you won’t find it in our garden now.”
Kale, lettuce, cabbage, turnips, sage, thyme and potatoes all go to the Food Bank. The beans are held back, however. Dixie Alexander, the cultural program director at the Center, pickles the beans and uses them throughout the year in her ‘Taste of Alaska’ program. Nothing like eating from the garden all year long!