ExxonMobil Makes Gift to Cultural Program Endowment Fund

Pictured here (l to r) are Tiffany Simmons, NPS employee Adia Cotter, MTCVC board member Dawn Murphy, Executive Director Cindy Schumaker, and ExxonMobil's Kimberly Jordan.

Pictured here (l to r) are Tiffany Simmons, NPS employee Adia Cotter, MTCVC board member Dawn Murphy, Executive Director Cindy Schumaker, and ExxonMobil’s Kimberly Jordan.

ExxonMobil has donated $25,000 to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center Cultural Program Endowment Fund.  “ExxonMobil is committed to engaging with Alaska Native communities in a manner that is respectful of their cultures and customs,” said Karen Hagedorn, production manager for ExxonMobil Alaska. “We take pride in supporting the cultivation and preservation of Alaska Native traditions.”

The purpose of the endowment is to provide a long-term revenue stream for Alaska Native cultural programs within the Center.  “Our ultimate goal is to grow the endowment to $2 million to help ensure the Morris Thompson Center is filled with educational programs that preserve our cultural heritage.” said Morris Thompson Center Board Member Tiffany Simmons. “Exxon’s gift will help keep our fiddlers fiddling and our dancers dancing until the last jigger wears a hole in their moccasins! Thanks ExxonMobil!”

Language Revitalization Class

LOGOEvery Wednesday, 2-4 P.M. inside the Denakkanaaga Elders’ Living Room, Suite 135

Come learn Interior Alaska Native languages from Native Elders in a homey, relaxed environment. All ages are welcome. Refreshments served. For more information, call 907.451.3900 or email receptionist@denakkanaaga.org.

Denakkanaaga Beading Class

_U1C9353Every Monday, 2-4 P.M. inside Denakkanaaga’s warm and welcoming Elders’ Living Room. All ages are welcome. Beads, felt and other supplies are provided. For more information, call 907.451.3900 or email receptionist@denakkanaaga.org

I SPY Scavenger Hunt for Kids

I SpyAn 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 It & Take It

Make it Take it 2Make 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:  907.459.3740 or dixie.alexander@tananachiefs.org

Sumitomo Pogo and Kinross Fort Knox bring Capital Campaign to a Close


Lorna Shaw (far right), External Affairs Manager with Sumitomo Pogo Mine presents the Mining Match gift to Morris Thompson Center representatives.

Lorna Shaw (far right), External Affairs Manager with Sumitomo Pogo Mine presents the Mining Match gift to Morris Thompson Center representatives.


Anna Atchison (far right), Government Relations Manager, presents Kinross Fort Knox's mining match gift to the campaign.

Anna Atchison (far right), Government Relations Manager, presents Kinross Fort Knox’s mining match gift to the campaign.

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.”

‘Taste of Alaska’ Program Serves up Traditional Athabascan Food and Cultural Knowledge

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 Makes New Gift to Help Complete Exhibits

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.”

Gwich’in Fiddling and Dancing Celebration

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 dixie.alexander@tananachiefs.org

Spirit of the Wind, Special Showing

Saturday, March 17 @ 11 a.m and 4 p.m. Come see this rare film following the trials and triumphs of sprint mushing legend George Attla. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company will be providing light refreshments before each showing.