M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Approximately 150 miles northeast of Anchorage, where the Tazlina River meets the Copper River, lies the village of Tazlina. Named for the confluence of the two rivers, Tazlina means “swift water.” For centuries, Ahtna Native clans held fishing camps at this spot, catching migrating salmon as they moved from one river to the next. This land was sold by Congress in 1954 to establish a school, which closed in 1971. Today, Tazlina tribal leadership has an opportunity to purchase this land. The Native Village of Tazlina (NVT) is partnering with several regional funders, including the Murdock Trust, to bring this land back to tribal ownership and create new opportunities for flourishing for the Ahtna Athabascan people.

One of eight Native villages in the Copper River basin, NVT is a federally-recognized tribe with less than 300 members.  The mission of the NVT is to be a place…

  • With a clean environment where residents are safe, healthy, sober, and drug-free.
  • Where residents are actively involved in community affairs.
  • Where residents are politically involved and work to preserve Native culture and traditions.
  • Where each resident has the opportunity for good education and gainful employment.

To achieve this mission, NVT manages several federal programs, including:

  • A Tribal Transportation Program that cares for roads in and leading to the village
  • A Youth Awareness Initiative that will educate youth about climate change and ecology
  • A Hazardous Fuel Reduction program that keeps the community fire-safe
  • The Indian Child Welfare Act Program that cares for child safety, counseling, and more

In addition, NVT cares for its community through daily assistance such as investing in harvesting traditional food for community-wide sharing. The Village also provides for its elders, those with disabilities, and other more vulnerable members by plowing snow, hauling water, and offering quarantine units during the pandemic.

Completing this land purchase will be the first step in NVT reaching their vision for what this Village could hold: a tribal college, a green-energy meeting hall, a church, protected fish wheel sites, a community garden, and more. The Trust is pleased to partner with this tribe, as we have been to support a number of Native tribes across the Pacific Northwest through capacity-building projects such as this. Other projects have included a new gym for the Klamath Tribes in Oregon, the renovation of a community center for the Shoonaq’ Tribe in Alaska, and a museum, library, and research center for the Squaxin Tribe in western Washington.  

Celebrating and supporting these Native communities is vital for preserving the beauty and legacy of the Pacific Northwest, and for working for the common good of all in our region. Thank you, NVT, for letting us partner with you in such important work.  

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