Protection of land will secure traditional Alaska Native home sites and natural resources sacred to the Dena’ina people
[Eklutna, Alaska, June 5, 2014] – Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is donating 143 acres of land adjacent to the Native Village of Eklutna to The Conservation Fund for permanent land and habitat preservation. The property is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, in the heart of Dena’ina Athabascan country where Alaska Native people have lived for thousands of years.
A donation ceremony will take place on June 8 at 2:30 p.m. during the Native Village of Eklutna’s biennial Dena’ina Potlatch celebration in Eklutna. The potlatch also kicks off the year conference slated for June 8-11 in Anchorage.
“We hope families in Eklutna, all Dena’ina people, and all Alaskans enjoy this beautiful land for generations to come,” said Joe Everhart, Wells Fargo Alaska regional president. “This donation is being made to honor the Dena’ina people by returning land that has immeasurable cultural and spiritual value. This donation aligns with Wells Fargo’s goals to be good stewards of the environment and support local communities. We are proud to work with The Conservation Fund and Eklutna, Inc. to protect this land.”
“When we got the word from Joe, we were thrilled and filled with such emotion that it took several days for the news to sink in,” said Curtis McQueen, Eklutna, Inc. CEO. “We are grateful for the vision and respect shown by Wells Fargo toward the Dena’ina people.”
“This land is the centerpiece of an ongoing effort to protect and restore the lands and waters of great cultural and environmental value to the Eklutna people,” said Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund. “We are pleased to work with Wells Fargo and Eklutna, Inc., and we applaud the corporate leadership and community appreciation for this wonderful and important conservation accomplishment.”
The land has cultural and historical significance to the Dena’ina people with traditional semi-subterranean dwellings (nichilq’a in Dena’ina Athabascan) and storage caches identified on the property. They are among the few remaining undisturbed Dena’ina habitations within the Municipality of Anchorage. The area remains a place for traditional subsistence activities such as hunting, fishing, and berry picking. Hills on the property are also revered as sacred grounds where ancestors’ ashes are spread. A unique granite formation on the land was the inspiration for the Native village’s name, Idlughetnu in Dena’ina Athabascan, which means river that flows by two hills.
On June 4, Wells Fargo announced that 54 environmental nonprofits were awarded grants totaling $3 million from the 2014 Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program. The grants include a total of $125,000 awarded in Alaska to the Anchorage Parks Foundation Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) program, the Alaska Zoo for its polar bear exhibit, and Alaska Pacific University’s Spring Creek Farm in Palmer. The philanthropic grants support projects focused on land and water conservation, energy efficiency, infrastructure, and educational outreach in communities where our customers and team members live and work. This grant program began in 2012 as part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to provide $100 million to environmentally-focused nonprofits and universities by 2020.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo has 850 team members in Alaska who serve customers through a network of 57 banking, mortgage and investment offices, and 115 ATMs, in 28 communities.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.5 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With more than 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives and stories are also available at blogs.wellsfargo.com and at wellsfargo.com/stories.
In 2013, the Company invested $275.5 million in grants to 18,500 nonprofits, and team members contributed more than 1.69 million volunteer hours around the country. A leader in reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and operating sustainably, Wells Fargo has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the U.S. Green Building Council. Since 2005, Wells Fargo has provided more than $28 billion in environmental finance, supporting sustainable buildings and renewable energy projects nationwide. This includes investments in more than 300 solar projects and 47 wind projects that generate enough clean renewable energy to power hundreds of thousands of American homes each year. For more information, please visit: www.wellsfargo.com/about/csr and the Wells Fargo Environmental Forum.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. The Fund has worked with Native peoples in Alaska and across the country to help strengthen and preserve their connections to the lands of their ancestors and enhance access to sacred natural resources. A top-ranked charity, we have protected more than more than 7 million acres nationwide, including more than 320,000 acres in Alaska. www.conservationfund.org