Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) president and CEO Charles Clement leads the orginization in providing a variety of health services to the community of Juneau, Alaska. Charles Clement’s nonprofit joins other local organizations in maintaining the cultural heritage of Juneau and other Southeast Alaska villages, which include Klukwan. To help preserve Klukwan’s culture, the community recently opened the Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Heritage Center (JKCHC).
Opened in the spring of 2016, the Jilkaat Kwaan Cultural Heritage Center displays a wide assortment of prominent treasures and cultural items. Items on display include intricately patterned blankets and robes created through Chilkat weaving, and a selection of the tribe’s colorful totems and carved screens. Hundreds of years old, the totems and screens feature animals, such as eagles, whales, and ravens, that define the Tlingit people. The center also hosts community events and engages residents in the annual Salmon Camp.
JKCHC executive director Lani Hotch estimates that the center will provide up to 30 much-needed jobs in the community and help revitalize the village by drawing in tourism. Keeping the village alive and prosperous for future generations is a crucial goal for the center, due to the number of threats that put its future at risk. The Tlingit’s ancestral lands once covered an area nearly the size of Connecticut, but have been reduced to a mere three square miles. Furthermore, tribal elders continue to fight conditioning inflicted upon them by missionaries, who punished them as children for speaking their native language.v
Charles Clement holds an undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Northern Arizona University and completed a masters of public administration at the University of Alaska. He also attended Harvard Business School’s executive leadership program.