From left: Tribal Council Vice-Chair Lawrence “Woody” Widmark, Mayor Gary Paxton and assembly member Kevin Knox listen during the biannual government-to-government meeting. (Photo/KCAW)

City and Tribal government leaders broke bread at their biannual government to government meeting on Tuesday  night (3/5/19). During a two hour dinner at the Westmark Hotel, five of Sitka’s seven assembly members and Sitka Tribal Council members discussed issues of shared significance to STA and the city, like education, affordable housing, homelessness, and economic development.

But the future management of the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery was at the top of the list. STA leaders asked assembly members if they would be willing to voice support for a subsistence management plan for the fishery. STA General Manager Lisa Gassman said the Tribe will present a document for the assembly to review at a later date, though whether that will be a resolution or letter of support has not yet been determined.

Tribal leadership also spoke about the status of their new address, 204 Siginaka Way, the former Forest Service building where the new headquarters of STA will be. Gassman said they hope to move into the new building by mid-August. Assembly member Aaron Bean asked what they would do with the former STA headquarters.

“That’s still up in the air,” said Tribal Chair KathyHope Erickson. “There are so many wonderful things we want to do with it.”

Assembly member Richard Wein said he thought the Tribe should consider opening a charter school in the building, where educators would teach K-12 along with more cultural education components.

The groups also talked about collaboration goals for 2019, including homelessness in Sitka and affordable housing. They discussed changing city zoning for cemeteries, and STA’s funding contributions to Sitka, including around $900,000 in pass-through grants in 2019 for things like remodeling of the SAFV shelter and funding the Sitka Police Department’s hiring of a detective dedicated to domestic violence investigations.