Alaska Native and University of Alaska-Fairbanks officials hosted a ceremony on the campus’s West Ridge yesterday to unveil a sign marking the location of the planned Troth Yeddha Park and Indigenous Studies Center.
The name roughly translates to the place where Athabascan people once harvested troth, a tuber that looks and tastes like a sweet potato.
UAF’s vice chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education Evon Peter, who presided over the event, points to the hill’s significance as a meeting place.
“Chief Peter John from Minto, who lived to be 102 years old, said that Troth Yeddha was a place where elders used to come to talk about matters of importance to our people,” Peter said. “And so it’s fitting that the university is now built here and even more fitting that we’re honoring it as Troth Yeddha, and building out as a park and gathering place for indigenous studies to be happening within the university.”
Peter says the officials with Native organizations and the university have talked about the idea of a park and Indigenous Studies Center for more than 10 years but it recently gained momentum.
“Now it’s really gaining traction,” he said. “It’s one of the priorities at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for us to really go after investment to be able to build out the park area and indigenous-studies center to really be a home for moving forward indigenous knowledge within the framework of the university.”
Peter said the project needs community support and donations are being accepted by the university’s development office.