The land that was originally occupied for thousands of years by the Dena'ina peoples, known today as Old Town Kenai, will be welcoming home its host culture next spring when the Kenaitze Tribe plans to begin construction of a new $28 million dollar Dena'ina Wellness Center. A project that has been in the making for over 20 years according to Kenaitze Tribe executive director Jaylene Peterson-Nyren, "I've been working with the tribe for about three and a half years now, but this is something that has been a priority for the tribe and community for over 20 years. The tribe had its first contract with the Indian Health Service back in 1972 and has leased space ever since then and have out grown all of the facilities that we have been leasing," Jaylene told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at a recent presentation.
The planned 52,000 square feet facility is intended to provide primary care, dental, and family services all under one roof says Peterson-Nyren, "The facility is being funded through a joint venture agreement with the Indian Health Service. What that means is that if we can construct the facility with other funds of our own making, then the Indian Health Service will fund the operation and maintenance costs plus one hundred and eight positions to staff the facility over the next twenty years." The Dena'ina Wellness Center is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2013.