Local gold mine donates $1 million to University of Alaska Fairbanks for indigenous learning facility

Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks, otherwise known as the golden heart city, has been considered an asset to the gold industry since the early 1900s.

Recently, mining company Kinross Fort Knox made a large donation to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in support of a new indigenous studies center on campus.

For the gold operation’s 25th anniversary in Alaska, Kinross decided they wanted to take part in giving back to the community.

Anna Atchison, the Kinross director of external affairs said, “When we were talking late last summer about what we wanted to do to commemorate our 25 years in Alaska, we started talking right away about another partnership with the university.”

The $1 million donation will fund phase one of an indigenous studies center at UAF, which has been a decade-long initiative. Phase one includes schematic design and bid specifications for the 34,000-square-foot facility.

Charlene Stern, the university’s vice chancellor of rural community and native communication said, “Many of the staff and faculty and students came together over 10 years ago to say that ‘we want a place on campus that’s really specific to the needs of our population.’”

Stern says that this facility will put UAF on the map as a global leader in indigenous studies. “The Troth Yeddha’ indigenous studies center will have a space for students to be able to study, to take courses in Alaska native languages, [and] Alaska native degree programs.”

The project began with the realization that the hill and ridge UAF sits on is a traditional place for the lower Tanana and Denai people of the interior.

The term Troth Yeddha’ comes from a wild potato plant that was historically gathered on the ridge. Atchison said, “The Troth root itself was a really important vegetable food for the Alaska Athabaskans, and so we kind of see this new center as really being rooted in who we have always been as a people in Alaska and who we will be moving forward.”

UAF plans to break ground for this project in the next few years, but in the meantime they will be planning and designing the facility through phase one.

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