PASSING THROUGH – Orca whales swim near the Indian River estuary Thursday night. A pod of more than a half-dozen adult and juvenile orcas spent the late afternoon in Sitka Sound near shore as people along Sawmill Creek Road photographed and video recorded them. NOAA Fisheries recommends staying at least 100 yards away while viewing whales from boats. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Museum Gets $250,000 from Rasmuson


Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka History Museum has something to be thankful for this year, after it received a big grant award from the Rasmuson Foundation Thursday. 

Museum Executive Director Hal Spackman said the $250,000 award will go toward outfitting the new museum space in the renovated Centennial Hall.

“With this gift from Rasmuson we now know we’ll be able to construct the exhibits,” he said. “It was a great relief.”


Sitka Historical Society board members and staff of the Sitka History Museum meet in the new gallery space at Harrigan Centennial Hall this afternoon. The museum was recently notified that it received a $250,000 Rasmuson grant to help create exhibits. Pictured are, from left, Pat Alexander, Ernestine Massey, Sabra Jenkins, John Stein, Kathy Hope Erickson, Hal Spackman, Kristy Griffin and Barbara DeLong. (Sentinel Photo)

Centennial Hall was rebuilt with a wing for the museum, but the Sitka Historical Society was given the responsibility of furnishing it.

The contents of the museum as existed before the Centennial Hall renovation began are being held in storage. The new museum space remains empty as plans proceed for gallery exhibits on Tlingit, Russian and more recent eras of Sitka history. The new museum will also have storage for objects, office space and a research room. 

The project’s price tag is $680,000, Spackman said. 

“That’s a lot of money to raise,” he said. 

With the addition of the Rasmuson grant to the funds previously raised, the museum is roughly $100,000 short of its goal, Spackman said.

“We’re almost there,” he said. “Their donation is very generous.”

Roy Agloinga, Rasmuson program officer, said the museum received the award because it met two criteria: the project is ready to build and it’s going to provide a large benefit to the community and state. The foundation thinks the museum’s plan to build artifact storage space along with its galleries is a good idea, he said. 

“The ability to put the collection storage in a space that is safe is important for the historical society and objects,” he said. 

“We’re excited that we can make a difference,” said Rasmuson Communications Manager Courtney Brooke Smith.

Spackman said the grant award “is validation of the community support.”

The museum plans to make up the remaining funds with other grant awards and fundraisers. One upcoming benefit is a big New Year’s eve party the museum will co-host with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

“We’re going to continue to have our fundraisers that we’ve done and promote history,” Spackman said. 

“History can be fun, it can be exciting,” he said. “This town has a story to tell and we’re glad to tell it.”


The museum is slated to open next summer, just in time for the sesquicentennial celebration – the 150th anniversary of the transfer of Russian Alaska claims to the United States.

You have no rights to post comments



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-31-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:50 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 2,990

Total (cumulative) deaths – 23

Active cases in Sitka – 15 (10 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 133.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

Login Form

Most recent Sentinels — PDF edition

July 27, 2020 

July 28, 2020

July 29, 2020

July 30, 2020

July 31 2020


July 2000

Clinton Buckmaster shot and wounded a large brown bear Tuesday night when it charged him near his Thimbleberry Bay home in the 2100 block of Sawmill Creek Road. As of press time, the bear was still at large.

July 1970

The city council agreed at a special meeting Thursday to consider the request of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1 for redevelopment planning funds for the Indian Village. Cost has been estimated at $12,000.