When the Kenaitze Indian Tribe broke ground on its new Dena’ina Wellness Center last week, Jaylene Peterson-Nyren shared a sentiment that got us thinking.
Peterson-Nyren, the tribe’s executive director, said the wellness center will do more than provide medical care to local Alaska Natives. The building will serve to elevate wellness of both mind and body to a priority, allow Natives to use their talents and resources, ensure they have a common safety net and allow them to share those resources with others.
That is the “our definition of prosperity,” she said.
What a thought — we had never considered such a perspective. Usually these groundbreaking ceremonies aren’t more than an opportunity for posed photos and waxing political.
But that sentiment really rang true for us.
This center will be a lot of things — 50 new jobs, increased access to care such as medical, dental, behavioral and optometry among many others. But we hope it serves, as Peterson-Nyren said, not so much an opportunity to receive, but to give. And to share.
In fact, much was shared to create the center, including tax funds from the state, hours from countless dedicated individuals and other time and resources. We can take pride in such an endeavor.
Buildings stand tall against time, but buildings that serve as beacons of hope and healing stand taller. And when one elevates that level of service, it can encourage and shape others to follow. We hope the wellness center is a nudge for other areas around our Peninsula and state to follow suit – when there is a need and support, amazing things can be built.
Moreover, we are proud the tribe is returning to a site important to the Kathnuht’ana; where the raven flies, the river empties into the inlet and Iliamna, Spurr and Redoubt stand tall. We hope this means more expansion and development of Old Town for Native purposes — it is great and unique that a people are able to hold onto the areas important to it.
In short: We’d like to congratulate the Tribe on their new wellness center and wish them well as they begin construction. We’d also like to commend those who worked hard to ensure funding was set aside to help. We’re confident the center will bring a wholeness to the health of all it serves.