A community hall is a central gathering place in smaller villages. It is a community center, where you go for dances, bingo, meetings, weddings, funerals, banquets and many other events. Voting polls are set up in the halls during election time. Many halls in the interior are built with logs. Halls usually have a wood stove and electricity with little else. The halls are usually circular with eight sides.
In Huslia, the community hall is about 35 years old and is in bad shape. The doors are old and have been repaired multiple times. Some of the windows are broken. The floors have not been in the best condition for a long time. It is generally in need of a replacement. Plus, the community has outgrown the old hall.
Building a hall in a small village of nearly 300 people is a big undertaking. The Huslia Tribal Council and the City of Huslia have partnered in the project. They are working to secure more funding and hope to build the new hall in the summer construction season of 2015. They also hope to make the new hall energy efficient.
According to Edwin Bifelt of Huslia, they have collected 400 logs upriver from Huslia. The next phase of the project will be to build four rafts of 100 logs each and transport them to Huslia. Edwin says, “This is the biggest logging project Huslia ever did.”
Edwin shared a few photos below.
Here are the people in the photo below:
Back row left to right: Timothy Sam, Edgar Weter, Joe Bifelt, DJ Starr, Rocky Peters, Craig Bifelt, Christopher Moses, Glenn Sam (crew boss), Floyd Vent, Russell David, Tony Sam Jr., David Vent and Donovan Williams.
Front Row: Victor Vent, Nate Vent, Beattus “Dino” Moses, Jr. and Calvin Jackson.
Camp Cooks: Kimberly Moses and Ophelia Moses
Other loggers who worked on the project include Robbie Williams, Ricky Vent and Clifford Edwin. Another cook not pictured is Agnes Dayton. Edwin thanked George Attla, Jr. for hauling supplies and Rachel Weter and Em Penn for helping.
In rural Alaska, you have to be innovative to make things work for your needs. There are many logistics that need careful planning. There is a also a lack of heavy equipment when you are working outside of the village. Calvin Jackson and Glenn Sam built two custom built log hauling trailers for the project.
I’m looking forward watching the progress of the rising of Huslia’s new community hall. Community halls are vital to rural Alaskan communities.