Gulkana Village Gets Back Its Old Cemetery From The State

Roy Ewan of Gulkana. (Photo, Copper River Country Journal) Historic Cemetery Returns To Gulkana Ownership After decades of asking, Gu...


Roy Ewan of Gulkana. (Photo, Copper River Country Journal)

Historic Cemetery Returns To Gulkana Ownership

After decades of asking, Gulkana Village has finally gotten back its traditional townsite and cemetery on the south side of the Gulkana River across from the current village.

The land was taken by the Alaska Road Commission to make the Richardson Highway in 1943.

In 2016, then Governor Bill Walker came out to Gulkana in late June and walked the site with Gulkana residents and Ahtna Inc. executives. It's taken years to finalize the issue.

Part of the land from the village townsite is now being used as the access parking lot to the river, across from the village next to the Gulkana River Bridge.

Ahtna Inc., in an agreement with the state, will pay Alaska $300,000. The state will not build a new boat ramp, but a new access and parking lot,  leaving the public to reach the river over the same dirt "boat launch."

The old cemetery, which is in disrepair, has been a longtime concern for Gulkana residents. Former Ahtna President and elder, Roy Ewan of Gulkana, who died in 2018, was a major driving force in the effort to retrieve the cemetery land.

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