The local tribe in Wrangell received a $100,000 grant, in part, to curb outward migration. The tribe will create a five-year plan to bolster industry and community services that could keep people from moving out of town.
“We have experienced in the last ten years a decrease in tribal membership, because people are leaving Wrangell and they’re not coming back,” says Annya Ritchie, a project director for the Wrangell Cooperative Association.
The tribe hired Ritchie with funds from the Association of Native Americans grant. Ritchie is responsible for designing a five-year plan that addresses the long-term needs of the native community in Wrangell.
“I always found it interesting that we focus on scholarships for our youth but we have no industry for them to come home to,” Ritchie says. “We invest in their education but we can’t invest further for them.”
The native organization represents about 550 members in town.
The tribe set their priorities for the grant in 2015, which were to bolster economic, housing and healthcare development.
“We’re taking these three parts and we got to look at what our need is today versus two years ago,” Ritchie says. “And what the community is already doing to grow some of these things and how are we going to contribute to that growth.”
She says the plan could target the tourism industry and set a goal of making a gift shop. Or it might build more senior housing. Right now it’s too early to tell. Ritchie is just now getting community members involved to steer the goals of the plan.
“I’m looking at people that have a historical knowledge of the community, people that may have interest or knowledge about tourism and fishing or even the forestry,” says Ritchie.
Ritchie hopes that having set goals will streamline getting even more grants.
The tribal administrator Ester Ashton also encourages tribal members to join other planning committees regarding transportation, tourism and veteran affairs. She also wants members to update their information with the WCA office. In other tribal news, board member elections will be held next Thursday, March 15th.