Ceremony officially opens Metlakatla Veterans Cemetery

After two years of construction, the new $3.1 million Metlakatla Veterans Cemetery officially opened on July 25. A pair of seven-foot-tall totem poles carved by David Boxely were dedicated to the cemetery at the event. Both totem poles represent traditional Tsimshian warriors.

The Fourth Generation Dancers, a Metlakatla dancing group, performed a warrior’s song during the totem pole unveiling ceremony.

“It’s so important to recognize our Native American, Native Alaskans who have served our nation and the families that have sacrificed,” U.S. Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Matthew Quinn said after the event.

“And to see the community come out in support of the veterans who were there, the youths who were there, just individuals wanting to recognize the service. … That’s why we do what we do, so that veterans are never forgotten,” Quinn said.

Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan also attended the event.

Construction of the cemetery began in July 2020. The project was completed in the spring of 2022, according to a statement from the Metlakatla Indian Community.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provided $3.1 million in funding for the project. The work included roads, utilities, an assembly area, full-casket gravesites in crypts, a cremation memorial site, a memorial wall for veterans and a maintenance building for the grounds.


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