Thursday, August 25, 2022: New book from Sealaska Heritage Institute tells saga of Indian Point and the battle to reclaim its history.

The high cliffs around Indian Point, or X’unáxi, made it a good look-out sight and gathering place. Photo by Bev Demientieff.

Shamans. Sacred burial grounds. A stand-off between two tribal chiefs. These are among the stories about land in Juneau’s backyard, told in a new book published by the Sealaska Heritage Institute as part of its Box of Knowledge series.

Rosa Miller (center), Fran Houston (left) and Angie Hunt prepare to sing a traditional song to the spirits of the land at Auke Recreation Area, April 1997. Indian Point is visible in the background (Photo courtesy of Dr. Thomas Thornton).

Most people know the land as Indian Point, near the Auke Bay ferry terminal. The Lingít called it X’unáxi, a reference to the land’s traditional use as a place to camp or stopover.

The book, National Recognition of the Traditional Cultural Significance of X’unaxi, is a compilation of three research papers, each written by a different author — Dr. Rosita Worl, Dr. Charles Smythe and Dr. Thomas Thornton.

On Thursday’s Juneau Afternoon, Worl and Smythe tell the story of the long battle to protect Indian Point from development, which include successful efforts to have it listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a traditional cultural property. Although Indian Point, or X’unáxi, has won recognition as a sacred site, Worl and Smythe believe the land is still not safe from development.

Rhonda McBride, Producer of Juneau Afternoon

Rhonda McBride hosted Thursday’s program. You can catch Juneau Afternoon, Tuesday through Friday, live at 3:00 p.m. on KTOO Juneau 104.3.  The rebroadcast airs at 7:00 p.m. on KTOO. You can also listen online at ktoo.org.

For more information about Juneau Afternoon or to schedule time on the show, email juneauafternoon@ktoo.org. Please schedule early. The show is often booked one to two weeks in advance.

What makes Auke Bay’s Indian Point, or X’unáxi a sacred site?

Guests: From the Sealaska Heritage Institute — Rosita Worl President and Dr. Charles Smythe, Senior Ethnologist.
Pillar Rock is included in the Traditional Cultural Property designation for Indian Point and Auke Cape (Photo courtesy of Dr. Thomas Thornton).

Every piece of land has a story. For Indigenous peoples, ties to the land are often erased from history after it is usurped — even sacred sites like Indian Point on the outskirts of Juneau.  A new book published by Sealaska Heritage Institute hopes to change that.

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