On Friday, August 16, the Denali Commission was happy to assist the Native Village of Eklutna (NVE) formally celebrate the opening of the new art installation at the small boat launch near the mouth of Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage. Soldotna-based artist Joel Isaak created the sculptures depicting “Grandma” Olga Nikolai Ezi, a fish drying rack, and concrete inlaid salmon swimming toward a traditional fish trap. The site also has interpretive signs and commemorates historic usage as a traditional Dena’ina fish camp until World War II when the US Army took over the area. Ezi was from the Ahtna region and married a Dena’ina chief, and was an influential and well-respected elder of the NVE.
The Denali Commission, through an interagency agreement with the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD), managed this project using MARAD funds in a MAP-21 account. NVE President/First Chief Aaron Leggett, NVE Vice President Maria Coleman, East Anchorage Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar, and Denali Commission Co-Chair Jason Hoke were among those in attendance.