JUNEAU, AK –The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) announced the opening of its new office in Anchorage, Alaska.
The office is located at 670 I Street in Cook Inlet Housing Authority’s renovated Elizabeth Place building, which is named after Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Tlingit & Haida has more than 2,500 tribal citizens in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley area. President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson said having an office in Anchorage is part of the Tribe’s goal to meet tribal citizens where they’re at.
“If you’re Tlingit or if you’re Haida, that doesn’t change with the ground that’s under you. We want to truly serve all of our people,” shared President Peterson. “We’re going to build partnerships that will continue to make transformative change.”
Tlingit & Haida aims to provide more services to people living in Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska. That’s why it was important to have an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialist and attorney located at the Anchorage office. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Roald Helgesen said there are more than 50 cases of tribal children in state custody and the ICWA staff will be there to assist those families.
“Our people need and deserve these services,” said COO Helgesen, noting the office’s close location to the bus transfer station and short-term parking will make it accessible for tribal citizens.
Other departments that will have office space in the building include Tribal Child Support, Grants & Resources, Program Compliance (Tribal Enrollment) and Finance. The Office of the President and Tribal Operations division will have staff there as well.
Tlingit & Haida intentionally chose Elizabeth Peratrovich Day for the small gathering which included a special blessing and naming ceremony.
Tlingit Elder and Anchorage Delegate Shirley Shaax’ saani Keek Kendall announced the office would be called “Our Own House,” which translates to Náay íitl’aangaa (Xaad Kíl) and Haa aayí hít (Lingít).
President Peterson also gave thanks and acknowledgement to the Dena’ina people for sharing their land with us.
Cook Inlet Housing Authority President/CEO Carol Gore said it’s a privilege to have Tlingit & Haida in the Elizabeth Place building.
“You are on Dena’ina land, but we’re here together. We’re not here as separate people, we’re here as one people. Welcome to this building,” said Gore.
During the opening ceremony, Tlingit & Haida presented a $50,000 donation to Catholic Social Services and a $20,000 donation to the Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis (AWAIC). The donations were made to these two organizations based on recommendations received from the Anchorage Tlingit & Haida Community Council (Anchorage Tribes Tlingit & Haida Indians of Alaska) to help the Tribe identify community-specific priorities to address the local needs of tribal citizens in Anchorage.
“We looked at people who were struggling with housing and people who were experiencing any kind of violence in their home,” said Tlingit & Haida Fourth Vice President Tasha Hotch. “We would not be able to do what you’re able to do with that amount of money.”
Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa to Paul Kinduneek Marks, Gilbert Stokes and Alvin (Dooner) Edenshaw for providing a blessing for the new office as well.