Ketchikan, Alaska (KINY) - The Tribal Council of Ketchikan Indian Community has announced the purchase of the Orton Ranch property at Naha Bay, just north of Ketchikan.
According to a press release, the purchase achieves the tribe’s goal to establish a permanent culture camp where they can teach the younger generation about the tribe’s way of life.
“When the Tribal Council heard that the property at Naha was being sold by the White Cliff Church, we knew it was an opportunity for our people that we couldn’t pass up,” KIC President Trixie Bennett said. “Naha is the perfect location for a Culture Camp for our children and to bring Tribal members together for special retreats and gatherings where we’ll be surrounded by all the beauty and serenity of Lingit Aani at the Naha River.”
Orton Ranch — located on the traditional lands of the indigenous people who still live here in the Ketchikan area — is four acres with 700-feet of river frontage in Roosevelt Lagoon, completely surrounded by US Forest Service lands. The property is reachable by boat, followed by a short hike along the Naha Trail. Limited access to the property’s river frontage is also available, but not typically used for larger boats or groups of people due to the river depth at the rapids leading into the Lagoon.
Currently, the property and facilities are in need of significant restoration and renovation. Although logistically challenging, Ketchikan Indian Community plans to make a sizable investment in the property and will begin work to renovate the buildings and water treatment and wastewater utilities as soon as possible. The goal is to make the space available for use again by 2023 or 2024.
Additionally, this year the US Forest Service will begin reconstruction of Naha Trail, dock, tram, and recreation facilities, utilizing the $850,000 Federal Lands Access Program Transportation Grant received in partnership with Ketchikan Indian Community.
“Once all the renovations are complete, the potential future uses of the property are incredible,” explained Bennett. “While our primary plan is to establish our Tribal Culture Camp for our children, we envision using the space year round as a special place to pass down traditional knowledge such as traditional arts, harvesting, and fish preservation. We also hope to continue the community’s use of the property in the future. We want to continue to be thoughtful and supportive of all the people who reside in our area.”
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