GATHERING OF CULTURES – Dorothy Gordon holds year-old Marilyn De La Torre as they perform an entrance song Thursday at the B.J McGillis Gym during the annual Gathering of Cultures. A Tlingit dance group made up of several Sitka Tlingit dance groups opened the gathering. Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s student dance groups representing cultural groups from five regions of Alaska also performed. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:

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29 Feb 2024 15:24

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Memorial Set March 11 For Vanessa Pazar, 40


Vanessa Mary Claire Pazar, Xh’aalgeis’

Vanessa Mary Claire Pazar, Xh’aalgeis’, who grew up in Sitka, passed away Dec. 30, 2022, in Juneau. She was 40.

Vanessa was born Nov. 12, 1982, in Bellingham, Washington. She spent her childhood fishing with her grandfather and adventuring around the neighborhood with her brother and friends as one of the last generations of kids who grew up playing outside.

She was always up for some good mischief, and during those early endeavors with her brother, her fierce loyalty first became apparent. She was a good companion to her brother and the neighborhood children, always ready to fight in the berry wars they played. 

She attended Sitka schools, graduating from Sitka Alternative High   School. 

Vanessa was a student of the Sitka Native Education Program where every Wednesday night and Saturday morning she was immersed in the rich Tlingit culture.  Language, song, traditional dance, and the creation of regalia were taught. Through this program she was able to attend Dog Point Fish Camp. Dog Point took what was largely classroom and controlled environment culture lessons and gave her the chance to truly experience and apply her knowledge.  It fostered a fierce independence and self-reliance. It also illuminated the compassion and generosity inherit to Vanessa’s character and allowed her to apply that as a camp counselor.  All of these factors ensured that Vanessa would grow up to love the water and the outdoors.

A gifted carver, Vanessa spent a summer in front of the public in Anchorage working on a canoe at the Anchorage Museum.  She worked on various projects throughout Southeast: canoes, totem poles, and a clan house.

Juneau became her home for 20 years. She worked at various jobs, always making friends whom she was protective of and loyal to.

Vanessa had a quick wit and a sly sense of humor. Something of a loner, she valued her privacy. People seldom knew the whole story when it came to Vanessa’s affairs. She was a loving and compassionate person. While complicated, she always seemed to carry hope with her.

Vanessa loved to read and watch movies. She read fantasy, and lately was enjoying science and philosophy. She prized contemporary music. She noticed things in nature and kept a careful eye on the birds in the area. Vanessa was always ready for a bonfire on the beach or a hike in the Juneau area.

Vanessa was preceded in death by her birth mother, Arlene Hepler.

She is survived by sisters Edith Hepler-Smith, Angel Flyn-Hepler, Precious Cruz, and Edith Richardson;  brother Harold Hepler; her Aunty Berta Victory; and many nieces and nephews.

Also surviving are her adoptive mother, Theresa Pazar, and brother Nickolas Pazar, both formerly of Sitka and now of Washington state.

Vanessa’s ashes will be scattered in places she knew and loved.

Vanessa was much loved and her warm and generous spirit will be sorely missed by her family and friends.

Memorial ceremonies are to be held 11 a.m. March 11 at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi community house in Sitka. Limited catering will be provided, and those attending are welcome to bring food to share.

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

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 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2004

Photo caption: Fire engines and ambulances shine in the sun outside the new fire hall Saturday during an open house. Hundreds turned out to look over the $4 million facility, which is twice the size of the building it replaced. It features a state-of-the-art exhaust system and much larger offices and a large training room.


March 1974

The Sheldon Jackson Museum will have a special showing of replicas of ancient Tlingit hunting weapons. The replicas were made by A. P. Johnson, a Tlingit  culture instructor and metal arts teacher at SJC.


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