Officials in Saxman are working to remake the 400-resident community into a destination for some of the million-plus tourists that visit Ketchikan every year.
City administrator Lori Richmond said a highlight of the city’s plan is what officials are calling the Native Village: an interactive exhibit showcasing everyday life for people of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian descent.
“Part of the vision of the City Council is not only will they be able to share their heritage through rebuilding the Native Village, but they’ll be able to give it back to the community that feels like it’s been somewhat taken away from them,” Richmond told KRBD in a Tuesday interview.
She said Saxman’s location — just three miles south of the busy cruise port of Ketchikan — gives the town a unique opportunity to show visitors an authentic slice of its history.
“We have pictures, we have stories, there are even some elders here that can tell us stories of how it was originally,” Richmond said
Ketchikan’s borough government agreed to spend $100,000 of state cruise ship passenger funds to design the project at Tuesday’s assembly meeting.
That money will also pay for plans to redevelop Saxman’s harbor — and lay the groundwork for a planned berth for small cruise ships.
In other business, the borough assembly unanimously green-lit a list of federal policy priorities for a planned official trip to Washington, D.C.
Some of those include funding for the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools programs, which provide millions in federal funds to the borough.
The borough also supports an exemption to the federal Roadless Rule for the Tongass National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service has proposed rolling back that Clinton-era rule, which restricts road-building in national forests.
Borough mayor Rodney Dial, assembly member A.J. Pierce and borough manager Ruben Duran will travel to D.C. on March 1. They’ll meet with representatives from the White House and Alaska’s congressional delegation to discuss federal issues impacting Ketchikan.