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Kenaitze Tribe receives grant to assess graveyard stabilization

Jenny Neyman
The Redoubt Reporter
The late Dr. Alan Boraas (left), professor of anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College, leads a tour of the Kalifornsky Graveyard in 2015.

The Kenaitze Indian Tribe is getting more than $200,000 to look into stabilizing an ancestral gravesite in the Kalifornsky area against the threat of bluff erosion.

Early this month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced a $45 million dollar investment in climate resiliency projects, spread out among almost 80 tribes and funded in part by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Dozens of those projects are connected to tribes and organizations in Alaska.

One of the projects receiving funding is a Kenaitze effort to assess erosion at the Kalifornsky Village graveyard, a burial site located close to the eroding bluff. According to the project description publicized by the bureau, the graveyard is home to 17 ancestral gravesites, “precipitously close to the cliff edge facing Cook Inlet.”

The $230,000 grant will be used to explore options to preserve the sites, which could include protecting the graves where they currently are or relocating the affected gravesites altogether.

Another Alaska-based project, in the Native Village of Saint Michael, is receiving funding to assess the stabilization of two cemeteries, as well as a school, residential homes and the tribal office building. Saint Michael will use the grant to determine how permafrost degradation is affecting structures in the community, according to the project description.

Riley Board is a Report For America reporter covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula for KDLL.
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