A write-in candidate is vying for election to the Wrangell Cooperative Association Tribal Council the day before elections are held. Elizabeth Peterman spent Tuesday campaigning for tribal member’s votes.
Peterman has never served on the council, but has worked for the tribe for several years periodically, most notably gathering about $2.5 million to rebuild the Shake’s Island Tribal House. Peterman said if elected, she would like the tribe to focus on tourism and cultural projects.
“I’m running for WCA board because I see a lot of great opportunities going by that would benefit Wrangell, the whole community. I just want to be more involved,” she explained. “One of my passions was Shakes Island, and the totem poles need to get recurved and put back up. That’s one of the opportunities that’s out there.”
The council is currently working on its five-year comprehensive plan. The plan includes fisheries and tourism initiatives. Peterman sits on the Alaska Native Sisterhood Association board as secretary. She said the non-profit has helped the tribe with tourism efforts in the past.
“I think the tours should be more organized. I think there should be somebody that’s available by phone that is focused on tourism,” said Peterman, “because ANSA was involved in tourism for a couple of years for the tribe, and we were very successful at it. I think I could bring that to the table as well and run it like a business.”
Peterman expressed concern about the tribe’s revenue streams and said boosting tourism could help mitigate impacts dwindling state and federal funds may have. The life-long Wrangellite added that WCA could also learn from other tribes in the region. She noted Kasaan and Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island have similar plans.
“They’re developing their tourism program too. So I feel we’ll have a good connection with them. They offered to help us in any way they can. They already have a blueprint for it,” said Peterman.
Peterman would like to see the council get a retail store for local Native artists up and running in the tribe’s downtown carving facility. She also wants the tribe to join the Sustainable Southeast Partnership to provide opportunities for youth leadership development.
Elections will be held in the WCA cultural center Wednesday. Voting will be10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tribal Administrator Aaron Angerman says any member that has questions can call the office at 874-4304.