Things are on the upswing for Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, according to President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson’s State of the Tribe address.
During a speech that stretched to well over an hour the first morning of Tlingit & Haida’s 84th annual Tribal Assembly, Peterson shared updates on tribal activities and finances that he largely colored as positive.
“I’m not trying to put a rosy picture on things,” Peterson said. “I’m very candid. I believe in accountability and transparency, and I never try to dodge those arrows. I am very excited this year. This year especially, it was great to put together this report with my staff and be reminded of all the good things that are happening.”
Peterson said previous executive council’s and presidents laid the foundation that led to financial and program success, and he thanked the hard work of Tlingit & Haida staff.
Among the successes Peterson touted were the Tribal Child Support Unit collecting $1 million in child support, more services for tribal citizens, the impending opening of Tlingit-language child care center Haa Yóo X‘atángi Kúdi,outreach efforts that include building rapport with international indigenous communities, progress toward a cultural immersion park and strong and varied revenue streams.
“The success is starting to show, and I’m really very proud of it,” Peterson said.
“It’s working, and we’re putting people to work,” Peterson said. “Not just people, our people.”
He said the day is coming soon there will be a Sacred Grounds Coffee in in Anchorage, Seattle or potentially a village.
Peterson also identified some pending developments he expects to have a big impact.
He said Tlingit & Haida have executed a letter of intent with Channel Construction and Shorty Tonsgard for the acquisition of 86 acres of land on Douglas Island.
“One of the things you say is, ‘What’s a tribe without land?’ Well, here you go,” Peterson said.
Also, Peterson said he was proud to announce Tlingit & Haida had entered into purchase agreement January 2019 with Triplette Construction with the intent of turning it into a construction academy.
“”It’s going to be a big deal,” Peterson said. “It’s amazing to create jobs and see our people find that self-worth and value in themselves and they do well making coffee and working in catering, but we want to take it to the next level, and we want to build real, life-long careers.”
He said the emphasis on economic development is in service of sovereignty and increasing the services available to tribal citizens.
“I never want to use the term again, ‘You don’t live within the service area,’” Peterson said. “The only way we’re going to abolish that term in this tribe is through economic sovereignty.”
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