Contact: Agatha Erickson, Communications Director. 907-452-8251
On Thursday, September 1st, TCC President Jerry Isaac welcomed Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius and Dr.Yvette Roubideaux, Director of Indian Health Services (IHS) to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center for a special meeting. Secretary Sebelius got the opportunity to hear about TCC’s concerns, and learn about their upcoming projects. The rest of the meeting was spent on a guided tour of the Morris Thompson Center by TCC Cultural Program Director, Dixie Alexander. Secretary Sebelius also had an opportunity to listen to individuals who have been helped by TCC programs, and the meeting ended with a show put on by Native Youth Dancers.
During the meeting, Jerry Isaac expressed thanks for the block grants that TCC receives from HHS to fund travel for delegates to the TCC convention. “These grants cover the travel costs for our tribal members to attend our annual meetings. This grant gives them the opportunity to have their voice heard,” said Isaac. President Isaac also made a strong statement that TCC works for the tribes and stressed the importance of a working government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and the federally recognized tribes in Alaska. TCC senior management was able to discuss program successes and concerns about funding and grants provided by HHS.
Towards the end of the meeting, Secretary Sebelius took the opportunity to announce a new $52 million grant that awards states and tribes for the purpose of youth suicide prevention. She also announced that TCC would be receiving up to $480,000 annually for up to three years as part of this grant. In a press release from HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Sebelius stated, “It is critical that our nation provides effective suicide prevention services wherever needed, and particularly to those traditional underserved communities that may be at greatest risk.”