The Healing Hand Foundation is holding a black tie dinner honoring Ethel Lund, a pioneer in tribal healthcare, on her 90th birthday as it fundraises for a new scholarship. (Courtesy photo / HHF)

The Healing Hand Foundation is holding a black tie dinner honoring Ethel Lund, a pioneer in tribal healthcare, on her 90th birthday as it fundraises for a new scholarship. (Courtesy photo / HHF)

Nonprofit holding 90th birthday gala for tribal health care trailblazer

The gala is funraising for a scholarship for other prospective Alaska Native healthcare workers.

When Ethel Aanwoogeex’ Lund was growing up in Wrangell, she saw how poor health care affected Alaska Native people throughout the Southeast, so she helped to form the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium and later the Healing Hand Foundation.

Now, the Healing Hand Foundation will hold a black tie gala for Lund as she turns 90 this week, as the inaugural fundraiser for a scholarship for Alaska Native residents going into tribal health care, said the foundation’s executive director, Melissa McCormick.

“The Ethel Lund Gala is honoring Ethel Lund, who actually turns 90 (Nov. 4). She will be present virtually,” said McCormick in a phone interview. “This is a milestone and we want to honor what she’s brought to tribal health care.”

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Planning for the event has been going on since about January, McCormick said. The event will include both the virtual/in-person dinner and an online auction, which is already live. HHF hopes to raise $100,000 with the fundraiser, which will help Alaska Native people interested in all levels of healthcare instruction, from a certified nursing assistants to doctors, McCormick said.

“It’s kind of changed over the course of COVID from virtual to hybrid,” McCormick said. “It’s been quite the journey.”

The Saturday night black tie dinner, held from 6-10 p.m. at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, will feature food, speakers and a video detailing Lund’s accomplishments and life in a COVID-conscious manner, McCormick said.

“We’ll sing happy birthday for her,” McCormick said. “I got a preview of the video and teared up. It’s definitely a beautiful piece.”

Multiple artists and organizations have contributed to the auction, and representatives from some of Juneau’s biggest tribal organizations will speak at the gala — including Lund herself, who will speak from her residence in Sitka.

“She’ll be a honorary guest speaker,” McCormick said. “We’ve got a few other guest speakers from SEARHC, Sealaska, Central Council (of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska), as well as the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood.”

Some tickets for the dinner are still available, McCormick said, and the auction is live until Saturday night, both at

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or

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