Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska recently acquired a pair of buildings downtown near the Andrew Hope Building as it hopes to provide more office space to centralize services for its citizens. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska recently acquired a pair of buildings downtown near the Andrew Hope Building as it hopes to provide more office space to centralize services for its citizens. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Tlingit and Haida president talks new buildings, future expansion

The tribe is taking steps to consolidate a number of its offices downtown.

With the purchase of two buildings near its Andrew Hope Building , Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has expanded its footprint downtown.

But there’s more yet to come, said President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson, who has far-reaching plans to expand the tribe’s holdings further.

“That is the neighborhood of our original village,” Peterson said in an interview. “We’re really trying to consolidate that.”

The two buildings, whose sale was finalized late last year, are located on Willoughby Avenue. One was occupied by offices of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, while the other had a number of tenants. All current tenants will remain in the buildings for the time being, Peterson said, but Tlingit and Haida will begin filling in the vacant space with offices like the tribal courts, which will move into the new buildings. The two buildings combined were assessed by the City and Borough of Juneau at more than $12 million, though Peterson did not disclose to the Empire what they were sold for.

“Those buildings are part of the long-term plan. Really, the COVID short-term need is we weren’t able to separate employees,” Peterson said. “We’re going to be doing some renovations to make sure the airflow is good.”

The conditions for tenants are likely to improve, Peterson said, with Tlingit and Haida’s organic maintenance and construction assets able to rapidly respond to issues within the structures.

“We’ll be managing our own properties,” Peterson said. “We have our own facility maintenance department. (Tenants’) needs will be getting more immediate attention.”

The move comes as part of a push to consolidate more tribal offices downtown, Peterson said, easing access for tribal citizens, especially in a pandemic where traveling via public transit may be contraindicated for some.

“We’ve always wanted to be more centralized and have more of a campus. It’s been a hardship on some of our citizens to go all over town for appointments,” Peterson said. “It’s about bringing people back to the office but it being a safe space, protecting their health and that of their clients.”

Peterson said he hopes to bring other offices to that part of town as well.

“My goal is to move my office back downtown to the Andrew Hope Building,” Peterson said. “In a historical context, I think people view the Andrew Hope building as the headquarters of Tlingit and Haida and it’s important to have the office of the president there.”

Eyes to the horizon

Beyond that, Peterson said, Tlingit and Haida’s expansion ambitions are in full flood.

“We’re just growing. And I expect to continue to grow. It’s about meeting the needs of our citizens,” Peterson said. “I want us to be the answer. I want us to be where our citizens can go to heal and get the assistance we need.”

Peterson said Tlingit and Haida has no desire to go it alone, but to work in concert with organizations like Sealaska, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, and other tribes to heal the ails of its citizens.

“It’s about ‘How do we work together to do more?’” Peterson said. “Some of this work we’re doing, everyone could get into it and it still wouldn’t be enough.”

Peterson said Tlingit and Haida is exploring the possibility of developing its own tribal college, offering both traditional degrees and vocational training within the next decade. The tribe is also looking to expand in other directions.

“We’re in a good position to acquire new land or trade. There’s a lot of potential there. There’s a lot of possibilities,” Peterson said. “We used to have a (commercial driver’s license) program. We’re bringing that back. We want anyone who lives in the Southeast, anyone who lives in Juneau, to be able to come here and be able to get that, instead of having to go to Anchorage.

Staff levels have more than doubled since he took the president’s chair, Peterson said.

“When I came onboard as president eight years ago we had 190 employees,” Peterson said. “Now we’re at 420-430.”

That number is likely to grow as the tribe both embraces distance work and expanding services to meet its citizens wherever they are, Peterson said.

“The tribe is in a real growth era. When you go on our website there’s a ton of jobs offered. If you could work from home and be successful, home can be wherever,” Peterson said. “A big goal of the tribe is to meet our citizens where they’re at. And our citizens are all over the world.”

But while distance work is completely viable, the home offices of the tribe will continue to be in Juneau, getting ever larger, Peterson said.

“Juneau is the headquarters of Tlingit and Haida,” Peterson said. “We’re always going to be hiring here.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska recently acquired a pair of buildings downtown near the Andrew Hope Building as it hopes to provide more office space to centralize services for its citizens. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska recently acquired a pair of buildings downtown near the Andrew Hope Building as it hopes to provide more office space to centralize services for its citizens. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of May 22, 2022

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau's incumbent delegation to the Alaska State Legislature from left to right: Representative Andi Story, D-Juneau; State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, and Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau. All three lawmakers have filed for re-election and are so far running unopposed. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire, Courtesy photo / Jesse Kiehl, Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Local lawmakers all seek reelection

June 1, filing deadline.

Coast Guard aircrews medevaced two people from Dry Bay Airstrip, approximately 30 miles Southeast of Yakutat, Alaska, after their plane crashed, May 25, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Coast Guard District 17)
Three medevaced after plane crash near Yakutat

All four aboard were injured, three critically so.

The author’s appreciation for steelhead has turned into something like reverence considering what’s happening to populations in the Lower 48 and Canada. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Silent steel

“You forget most of what ends up in the freezer, but those steelhead, they stick with you.”

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, seen here in this June 16, 2021, file photo, announced Wednesday he will not seek relelection in the Alaska State Senate, where he has served since 2013. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Senate president says he won’t run again

“Honor and a privilege.”

Hoonah’s Alaska Youth Stewards helped make improvements to Moby and water the plants in summer 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Jillian Schuyler)
Resilient Peoples & Place: Moby the Mobile Greenhouse cultivates community

It presents opportunities to grow food knowledge and skills.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 26, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read