Shghagwéi Khwaan Naa Kahídi
(Skagway Tribal Community Center) open house

December 5, 2004

Above, Ray Dennis of Haines describes garments that tell stories and Lance Twitchell accepts a gift of a 1970s conceptual drawing of a Skagway long house from former tribal leader Gene Strong. Below, “Aunt” Ida Calmegane of Tagish presents a pair of moccasins to Skagway elder Dorothy Dennis; Ada Haskin gets her photo taken for her T-H card, one of many new services at the building; the tribal community center basks in the glow of the evening; and of course, there was cake.

Memorable Sayings

“You are bearing witness to something, in our way it makes something true.” – Lance Twitchell, Skagway Traditional Council president

“We don’t wear art, this is a portion of our history. It’s not to make a show... We wear our deeds.” - Ray Dennis (wearing the Sockeye robe which tells the story of a huge fish eating a man whose canoe capsized in Chilkoot Lake - other art was shared by Lance Twitchell, Paul Wilson, Le Florendo, Dorothy Dennis, and Makeah Twitchell)

“As you hear us talk amongst ourselves, hopefully you get a sense that we are interacting with each other.” - Ed Warren, Klukwan

“(The late Native leader) Richard Stitt was very proud of Lance for taking the leadership at such a young age... without his leadership and support of his tribe, this would not have happened.” – Ed Thomas, president of Central Council of Tlingit & Haida which spearheaded funding of the center with the Deptartment of Agriculture

“The two eagle feathers touching at the top are a symbol of Canadian and American tribes coming together.” – Andy Carville, Carcross-Tagish First Nation, describing one of many gifts presented at the event.

“We will once again open this box of wisdom.” Opening song of dance by Carcross-Tagish First Nation dancers

“There is an awakening that is happening in this community. Too long we have focused on the short history (of the past 100 years). Our roots are the Native roots... I hope the drums beat loudly for many years to come.” – Skagway Mayor Tim Bourcy

“I remember with shame (growing up) the attitude that so many groups had, looking down on the Natives, and some of us kids tried to change that. It wasn’t right. I’m glad we are all one people again.” - Barbara Kalen, oldest white person born in Skagway, who then sang a short love song and received a standing ovation

“How blessed this day is and how thankful we are,” Lance Twitchell, who concluded thanking the community, families that are being reconnected after many years, elders Ada Haskin, Richard Dick, Dorothy Dennis and Minnie Stevens, and encouraging young people to learn the language.

“God tells us there is a time for everything and this is the time for Skagway Traditional Council ... Bless this house that it will always be an open place.” – Sheryl Dennis, closing prayer

Read more about the new Skagway Tribal Community Center from our Nov. 24 issue