Tlingit and Haida launch emergency response center for tribal citizens

Tlingit and Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson speaks at a meeting of Tribal Assembly Delegates in 2017. (Photo courtesy Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)

The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska recently created an emergency response center to keep tribal citizens updated about the pandemic in the state and across the country.

President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson and his team created the digital center as part of its emergency response coordination with federal, state and local governments.

The site features case counts in Alaska and in states with high populations of tribal citizens, prevention tips and other resources for citizens to stay up to date on the pandemic.

Peterson also appointed Public Safety Manager Jason Wilson to serve as the incident commander during the crisis, according to a press release.

Tlingit and Haida communications coordinator Raeanne Holmes told KTOO that the tribe is encouraging citizens who are struggling as a result of the pandemic to seek assistance on the Tlingit and Haida website.

“There are many tribal citizens in need right now and we must all work together especially to overcome this pandemic and the economic impact that it has had on our families and communities,” said Holmes in an email.

Those living outside of the Southeast Alaska service area can go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs directory and locate the nearest tribe to request assistance. More information on eligibility requirements can be found here.

The tribe also posted a call to action for consultation on CARES Act relief funds on its social media pages. The deadline for written comments is Monday, April 13.

Holmes also said one of the tribe’s most important values is to hold each other up.

“It is not our way to be disconnected from each other and many of our people are feeling isolated, emotional distress and even financial hardship related to COVID-19. Please take the time to reach out to your loved ones, check on them and lift them up. In this time of uncertainty, it is especially important that we take extra care in holding up our Elders to make sure they are safe,” said Holmes in the email.

Additionally, the tribe continues to operate the Community Drive for Food and Sundries to help the communities affected by the recent delay in ferry service before the pandemic. Donations are still being accepted at Super Bear IGA and Fred Meyer.


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