Tyonek Hosts the Return of the Light Gathering

President/CEO Dr. Katherine Gottlieb addresses the Tyonek community regarding SCF’s health and wellness services.

Just 40 air miles southwest of Anchorage, situated along the west bank of the Cook Inlet, sits the Native Village of Tyonek. In February, the village held a Return of the Light community gathering and invited Southcentral Foundation to join in the celebration. SCF President/CEO Dr. Katherine Gottlieb and 20 employees traveled to Tyonek to share health and wellness information, community, culture, friendship, and food. Most of the small community of less than 200 gathered for this event. A highlight was when the school children all came into the Tribal house to play with balloons, paint, bead, and dance the invitational dance offered by the Princess Warriors. President of the Native Village of Tyonek Art Standifer said, “It was meaningful to see the community come together to share laughter, culture, and story.”

During the two-day visit, Tyonek and SCF employees focused on building and maintaining healthy relationships and healthy communities. Dr. Gottlieb said, “I appreciate the invitation and warm welcome from our Tribal partners. The Tribe is strong in their sense of community and what they want to achieve in Tyonek to promote wellness.” Another SCF employee in attendance commented on the unity of the entire group, saying, “The pride of people was palpable in a positive, resilient way.”

The Return of the Light gathering was a follow up to a past Rural Provider’s Conference, themed Coming Out of Darkness, that Tyonek previously hosted. This event was intended to lift spirits and improve mental wellness during the darkest days of the year, with a focus on sobriety. Janelle Baker, secretary treasurer for the Native Village of Tyonek, was pleased with the success of this year’s gathering and said, “This event really lifted up the community. It was good to see so many people gather together.”

Fittingly, the Return of the Light celebration took place on the eve of the supermoon, and many community members and guests awoke to take pictures of the breathtaking display of light in the crystal clear skies of Tyonek.

SCF employees returned from the trip, excitedly discussing their next opportunity to make a return visit. Thank you Tyonek, for hosting such an amazingly positive event!

by Nikki Moss

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