JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The city assembly in Alaska’s capital has voted to rename a district with a traditional Native name, a report said.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted Monday to change the Willoughby District to the Aakw Kwaan Village District, The Juneau Empire reported Tuesday.

The area was home to a neighborhood known as the “Indian Village” and became a traditional summer village site for Alaska Native people.

Renaming the downtown district bordering Willoughby Avenue acknowledges the Aakw Kwaan people settled the area, officials said.

Willoughby Avenue will not be renamed as part of the resolution.

The new name becomes effective immediately following adoption of the resolution, officials said.


Aakw Kwaan spokesperson Frances Houston attended the meeting Monday and said Alaska Natives are pleased with the change.

“I discussed it with other Aakw Kwaan, and they voted on it, and they’re happy,” she said.

Residents may need time to adapt to the change, but the city will begin using the new name in ongoing projects, said Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove.

The idea to rename the district arose during a Sealaska Heritage Institute lecture by writer Ernestine Saankalaxt Hayes during Native American and Alaska Native Heritage month in November.

“Is it not time to stop erasing Native people, erasing Native history, erasing Native names,” Hayes asked. “Let us not look back with admiration, but forward with hope.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com