Gloria Stickwan, Ahtna, Incorporated
Gloria Stickwan is the Customary & Traditional Coordinator for the Ahtna, Inc. Land Department and is based in Ahtna’s Glennallen corporate office. In her leadership role as President of the Tazlina Village Council, Gloria has taken on a big project for the Village: raising money to purchase the Village of Tazlina’s traditional homelands.
The area has a long history, with house pits along the Tazlina River dated by the National Park Service to 300 – 700 years old and documented for subsistence use. From 1954 – 1971, the lands were occupied by a Catholic boarding school for students coming from all over the state.
Under the leadership of Johnny Goodlataw, in 2011 village members participated in creating a shared vision for the land, a place where the Ahtna can continue to live our way of life and keep the Ahtna culture intact. The Village of Tazlina is working to restore the area to its role as a place of education and tradition by establishing a tribal college, new village meeting hall, culture camp, and a conservation easement to preserve fish wheel sites on the property in perpetuity.
All of Ahtna lands are important and culturally significant, but this effort has special significance to Gloria because her family moved to Tazlina from Dry Creek in the 1940s: “My father had to take apart our family cabin and pack the logs down to Tazlina when the Army took over the Dry Creek village site [6 miles north of Glennallen],” recalls Gloria. “Alaska Natives have been dispossessed of their original village lands so many times. This project is about repatriation, about returning traditional homelands to our villages, and about Tazlina Tribal homelands coming full circle back to the village for cultural preservation and protection of subsistence fish wheel sites on the river.”