SOLDOTNA, AK (April 28, 2016) — A newly dedicated yurt at Alaska Christian College will serve as a Native cultural center as well as a chapel for students.
Students will be able to work on art projects as well as participate in Native dance, drumming, and singing—as well as activities such as Zumba classes.
“A yurt is a circular self-contained building that is somewhat Alaskan and very Mongolian/Nepalese,” said school president Keith Hamilton.
He referenced the structure as the Aariqaa yurt. Aariqaa in Inupiaq means “sweet” or “good.”
The dedication ceremony was held April 21. “We had an awesome time together that included a performance by our Agayun Native dancers,” Hamilton said.
The yurt was made possible in large part by a 95-year-old donor who lives at Covenant Village of Cromwell, Hamilton said. She and 12 family members flew out to the dedication.
When the donor had learned two years ago of the school’s desire to construct a yurt, he called to say he wanted to fund the project.
The school used a kit from a local company. In the summer of 2015, a contractor from Plymouth, Minnesota, and five work teams constructed the structure, which made it possible for the college to build the yurt debt-free.
“I have been amazed in our short 15 years of reaching Alaska Native young people with Christian higher education how much has been given in gifts like this and in-kind gifts to build and complete great projects for ACC,” Hamilton said. “Many have sacrificed in giving through their bequests and trusts like our wonderful donor did to build this Native cultural center for our students. The entire Covenant family has powerfully supported us for which our entire ACC family is grateful!”
Hamilton said as enrollment at the school continues to grow, need has arisen for a second dorm. This past year it had to turn students away. The goal is to raise $1 million in cash plus $700,000 of in-kind gifts, Hamilton said. They are halfway to that goal.