Sitka Tribe of Alaska decided to split the $50,000 grant down the middle.  $25,000 will boost the traditional foods program, helping tribal citizens harvest more traditional foods like deer and herring roe, pictured above. (Photo/KCAW/Ed Ronco)

Earlier this spring, the Sitka Tribe of Alaska was awarded $50,000 from Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) as a part of the “Healthy Is Here” grant program. The Tribe plans to send kids to summer camp with part of the money, and support its traditional foods program with the rest.

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SEARHC awarded $50,000 to each of the 15 tribes that are part of the SEARHC consortium, for a total of $750,000. Martha Pearson, director of health promotions, says the “Healthy Is Here” program- the brainchild of CEO Chuck Clement- is a way for SEARHC to invest extra funds back into the communities it serves.

“Over the years, we’ve worked with different communities on how to best foster a healthy environment for the people who live there,” said Pearson. “Mr. Clement thought, let’s just put the resources in the hands of the local communities to decide for themselves what they’d like to do to foster health in the local communities. They can be creative with it, they can tailor it to their specific needs.”

Sitka Tribe decided to split that money down the middle, awarding $25,000 to the Social Services department. That money will fund summer youth scholarships. Melonie Boord of STA’s social services department said tribal citizens can apply for the scholarships offered at $250 per child to help fund a summer camp experience.

“Whether that be swimming camps, summer camps, fine arts camps, whatever supervised camp is available to our youth,” Boord said.

The other $25,000 was allocated to the Resource Protection department to support the Traditional Foods program — covering field cost, staff cost, maintenance and subsistence supplies. Resource Protection Director Jeff Feldpausch said he hopes the funds will allow them to bring in more subsistence food.

“It’s definitely a shot in the arm to the program,” Feldpausch said. “I know the last couple of years we’ve been spending a lot more staff time and fuel chasing herring around the sound, so at the end of the year it kind of leaves us a little short on funds to harvest deer and do that kind of thing later in the season.”

SEARHC plans to offer “Healthy Is Here” grants annually. Applications for youth summer camp scholarships are available at the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Social Services department.