November 5, 2020 Karen Lewis

“Thank you Dena’ina people for letting us walk on your land” Girdwood Mural Installed this Summer

The installed mural in Girdwood

The final mural was installed in Girdwood in August 2020

Dena’ina qut’ana chiqinik, chin’an gheli gu yeh Dena’ina ełnen’aq’ łuh ch’nidatl’ ghu

“Thank you Dena’ina people for letting us walk on your land”

This past summer a KMTA Mini Grants helped support a community youth Land Acknowledgement mural with the Girdwood Fine Arts Camp. 

It is a long-standing tradition to repaint the town’s playground mural every other year. This past summer the Girdwood Art Camp partnered with Anchorage-based Alaska Native artist and activist Melissa Shaginoff (@mshaginoff) to create a mural that would give tribute to the original people of Girdwood Valley – the Dena’ina Athabascan people who used this land to trap, hunt and fish. 

Youth work on the Land Acknowledgement Mural in Girdwood

Youth work on the Land Acknowledgement Mural in Girdwood

Melissa Shaginoff works on the Youth work on the Land Acknowledgement Mural in Girdwood

Melissa Shaginoff, an Anchorage-based Alaska Native artist and activist, works on the Youth work on the Land Acknowledgement Mural in Girdwood

Painting on the Mural in Girdwood

Youth work on the Girdwood Mural in Summer 2020

The camp – for kids between 5 and 16 years old had participation cut in half due to COVID considerations. As a result 25 children were able to actively participate in the design and painting of the mural. The theme of the project brings awareness of the cultural and historical heritage of the Girdwood Valley and Turnagain Arm area. The writing on the mural is in Dena’ina Athabascan language and is meant to honor the land and its original people to build a strong and grounded foundation for environmental stewardship and relationship to the natural world around us.

Thank you Dena'ine for letting us walk on your land.

The Girdwood Community Mural acknowledges the Dena’ina people: Thank you Dena’ina for letting us walk on your land.

Participants listen to artist Melissa Shaginoff during the Girdwood Fine Arts Camp in Summer 2020

Participants listen to artist Melissa Shaginoff during the Girdwood Fine Arts Camp in Summer 2020

The project was completed and installed in August, 2020, and is enjoyed by the public visiting the town playground, skate park and Forest Fair park.