The Center's History
In 1987, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the state's largest Native organization, responded to the need for a community gathering place by unanimously approving the concept to establish a statewide Native culture center. The Alaska Native Heritage Center was formed a year and a half later as an independent non-profit organization with tax exempt status.
Enthusiastically supported from the grassroots level to Alaska’s highest leadership, the Alaska Native Heritage Center was incorporated in 1989 as a non-profit educational and cultural organization.
Between 1989 and 1999, $14.5 Million was raised to construct the facility from federal, state, local, and private sources. The Center’s original scope was double that cost, so the project was scaled down to the funds available.
A building site was secured in 1994, and the Heritage Center opened its doors to the public on May 1, 1999.
A 30-member Academy comprised of Elders and Tradition Bearers was formed to help guide the Heritage Center staff in program and building design.