Tlingit-Haida central council elects new president

Richard Peterson and Albert Kookesh

Richard Peterson, new president of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is sworn in by former state senator Albert Kookesh. (Screen shot from streaming video of the central council tribal assembly)

Richard Peterson of Kasaan is the new president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

He was elected and sworn in Friday during the central council’s tribal assembly in Juneau.

Peterson told delegates he will work with everyone he can.

I don’t feel like I’m alone,” Peterson said. “I know that I have everybody holding me up.  I know that I can accomplish what we need, because I won’t be I. It’ll be we.”

Peterson takes over from Ed Thomas, central council president for 27 of the past 30 years.

Peterson previously served as a vice president of the organization’s executive council. He is also president of the Tribal Council for the Organized Village of Kasaan, on eastern Prince of Wales Island.

Delegates chose Peterson over candidates Ozzie Sheakley and Harold Houston of Juneau. He was elected by an overwhelming majority on the first vote. Central council elections usually require two or more ballots.

“Richard Peterson has worked hard for this position,” said Bill Martin, Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp President and former central council president. “He’s an honest man and he has the highest integrity. And those are the things that we look for.”

The Tlingit-Haida central council is Southeast Alaska’s largest tribal organization. It provides education, housing, financial assistance, foster care and other programs to tribal members. It began in 1935.