In this Dec. 5, 2017 photo, lead carver Nicholas Galanin works on the Wolf Totem Pole at Harborview Elementary School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

In this Dec. 5, 2017 photo, lead carver Nicholas Galanin works on the Wolf Totem Pole at Harborview Elementary School. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Artist Nicholas Galanin selected for Native Burial Ground Monument

The City and Borough of Juneau and the Douglas Indian Association are constructing a Native Burial Ground Monument at Sayéik Gastineau Community School. Nicholas Galanin, a Tlingit/Unangax̂ multi-disciplinary artist, has been selected to design and produce a central component of the monument — a Tlingit ceremonial fire dish. In Tlingit, the dish is called gankas’íx’i, “Dishes for the Fire.” The fire dish is symbolic for the Tlingit practice of placing food into a fire to feed and comfort the spirits of the departed. Galanin was chosen by a three-member Art Selection Panel through a CBJ Call for Artists process.

Galanin is an award-winning artist whose work is exhibited around the country and world. Locally, his work is part of the Alaska State Museum collection. Galanin collaborated with renowned Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary to create the Glass Clan House Screen for Juneau’s Walter Soboleff Center. Galanin holds a Masters in Indigenous Visual Arts from Massey University in New Zealand and has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers. Galanin is of the L’uknax.ádi, Raven/Coho Clan, Sheet’ká Kwáan. His Tlingit name is Yéil Ya-Tseen.

The goal of the Native Burial Ground Monument is to help the community find forgiveness, restore peace, and to evoke spiritual help to heal from grief and loss for generations to come. When Sayéik Gastineau Community School was being renovated in 2012, five graves were unearthed, which was evidence that the school, constructed in 1958, was built upon a known Native burial ground. The traumatizing event impacted the entire community, Native and non-Native alike. The Douglas Indian Association and CBJ, with the guidance of DIA Elders, are working together to create the monument.

The monument will have several components. Outside the school’s front entrance, bronze panels will be embedded in an arc into the existing concrete plaza and engraved with a Tlingit quote and its English translation. A stone path will be laid from the plaza to the sidewalk. The path will also lead to a granite boulder, located in the center of an existing grove of trees. The boulder will have a cast bronze Tináa plaque, and the bronze fire dish on top illuminated by a light to represent an eternal flame.

For more information, contact Project Manager Lisa Eagan Lagerquist at (907) 586-0893 or

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Oct. 1

Here’s what to expect this week.

This image from House Television shows Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., the Speaker Pro Tempore, presiding as the House passes a 45-day funding bill on Saturday at the Capitol in Washington. The House vote was 335-91. The measure now goes to the Senate, which also is meeting Saturday. (House Television via AP)
On the brink of a federal shutdown, the House passes a 45-day funding plan and sends it to Senate

Peltola, still in Alaska after husband’s death, abstains from vote, but offers statement of support.

This is a photo taken at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Forest Service, Tlingit and Haida to co-steward Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area

Tribe dedicated to “protection of the historic and cultural resources in the area,” president says.

Retiring Deputy Chief David Campbell, left, and City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt, right, smile for a photo Friday afternoon during a ceremony held at the Juneau Police Station. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Juneau’s deputy and interim police chief retires after 28 years

David Campbell honored for his service during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Violinist/vocalist Chelsey Green, seen here with her Green Project ensemble in 2022, is scheduled to perform Oct. 4 and 5 during the Juneau Jazz and Classics Fall Music Festival. (Photo courtesy of Chelsey Green)
This fall’s Juneau Jazz and Classics offers the world on a string

Cellos and violins will be playing rock, folk, baroque, fusion and traditional at five-day festival.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Police investigate ‘random’ drive-by pellet gun attack downtown

A person in a white SUV reportedly shot at two women Wednesday night.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Derek Bos of Colorado smiles for a photo Thursday evening outside of City Hall. Bos is one of two finalists seeking the chief position at the Juneau Police Department. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Chief finalist says building trust in schools and faith-based communities a priority

He addresses past controversial arrests of two school district administrators in Colorado.

Most Read