The Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) has been named one of “America’s Cultural Treasures,” a national initiative from the Ford Foundation that provides grants to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) arts and cultural organizations severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This collective effort brings together 16 major donors and foundations to award $1 - $6 million grants to 20 different organizations across the country, including ANHC. The designation of grant recipients as “America’s Cultural Treasures” recognizes their unique and vital work, despite historically limited resources and funding streams.
In its application to the Ford Foundation, ANHC outlined several interwoven yet distinct healing-based initiatives it plans to create, expand upon and implement in the coming years, creating an intentional space of healing where the Indigenous community can connect with themselves and their culture.
Over the next four years, ANHC will receive $3 million in general operating support to enhance and support its healing, cultural, and educational programming work, and an additional $100,000 in technical services. A grant of this size and type is an unprecedented, historic investment throughout the Alaska Native community.
As the only statewide cultural and education center dedicated to celebrating all cultures and heritages, ANHC’s work has never mattered more to Alaskans, many of whom face additional struggles resulting from COVID-19 and its related economic impacts. ANHC’s work is also central to non-Native Alaskans and visitors to our state, who learn about and connect with Indigenous peoples through the lens ANHC provides.
Since opening its doors to the public in 1999, ANHC has worked with more than one million people, including Alaska Native youth, Elders, and the broader community worldwide. ANHC also serves as a gathering and healing place for the Alaska Native community and a focal point for visitors who wish to learn about Alaska Native cultures, heritages, and traditions.
Like all arts and cultures, and seasonal and tourism-related activities in Alaska, ANHC has suffered substantial economic losses. However, COVID-19 has also allowed ANHC to reimagine how the organization delivers its programming. For example, ANHC quickly pivoted to online and virtual programming, such as storytelling, cooking classes, and art classes. ANHC also created cultural boxes for K-12 students across the country.
Thanks to funders like the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and so many more, ANHC is coming out of COVID-19 stronger than ever before.