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 the Week of May 28

Here’s what to expect this week.

File Photo
Police calls for Saturday, May 27

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

Dozens of Juneau teachers, students and residents gather at the steps of the Alaska State Capitol on Jan. 23 in advocacy for an increase in the state’s flat funding via the base student allocation, which hasn’t increased sizeably since 2017 and has failed to keep pace with inflation during the past decade. A one-time funding increase was approved during this year’s legislative session. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
What’s next for the most debated bills pending in the Legislature?

Education funding increase, “parental rights” and other proposals will resurface next year.

Emergency lights flash on top of a police car. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Police investigate assault in Lemon Creek area

“JPD does not believe there is any danger to the public at large.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. DeSantis has filed a declaration of candidacy for president, entering the 2024 race as Donald Trump’s top GOP rival (AP Photo / John Raoux)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launches 2024 GOP presidential campaign to challenge Trump

Decision revealed in FEC filing before an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 23, 2023

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

A channel flows through the mud flats along the Seward Highway and Turnagain Arm in Alaska on Oct. 25, 2014. Authorities said, a 20-year-old man from Illinois who was walking Sunday evening, May 21, 2023, on tidal mud flats with friends in an Alaska estuary, got stuck up to his waist in the quicksand-like silt and drowned as the tide came in before frantic rescuers could extract him.  (Bob Hallinen / Anchorage Daily News)
Illinois man gets stuck waist-deep in Alaska mud flats, drowns as tide comes in

“…It’s Mother Nature, and she has no mercy for humanity.”

Most Read