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Rural Alaska

Metlakatla receives VA grant to build veterans cemetery

  • Author: Jeff Parrott
  • Updated: September 24, 2019
  • Published September 24, 2019

A more than $1 million federal grant will be used to build a veterans cemetery in the Southeast Alaska community of Metlakatla.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan announced in a statement Friday that the federal Department of Veterans Affairs awarded the Metlakatla Indian Community a grant of almost $1.1 million to build a veterans cemetery. The grant includes funds to construct 48 burial sites, an assembly area around a flag pole, landscaping and a gravel roadway on a 2.5-acre undeveloped plot of land off Oceanview Graveyard Road.

Leadership from the Metlakatla community worked with Sullivan’s office and the VA undersecretary for memorial affairs to secure funding for the project, the statement says.

“It was a team effort,” said Genelle Winter, a Metlakatla grants coordinator. She said the community was very excited to be present during the call between Sullivan and Mayor Karl Cook announcing the award.

Metlakatla, a community of around 1,400 people, is on Annette Island about 15 miles south of Ketchikan. The American Community Survey from 2013-2017 estimates there were 111 veterans living in Metlakatla.

Construction of the cemetery will begin during fiscal year 2020, said a representative with the mayor’s office who did not specify an exact time frame. Winter said the project began in June 2017.

“Every American veteran, no matter where they live, deserves a resting place that commemorates their service and sacrifice to our country," Sullivan said in the statement. "I am incredibly pleased that funding is on the way so that our great veterans in Metlakatla will now have that place,”