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PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Carving continues on Kootéeyaa Project Wellbriety totem pole
Community members invited to take part in Circles of Healing

Photo courtesy of SEARHC
  Tlingit master carver Wayne Price of Haines gets on his knees to work on the Kootéeyaa Project Wellbriety totem pole on Friday, July 7, 2006, at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Mt. Edgecumbe campus in Sitka.ECommunity members are invited to participate in the circles of healing for the Kootéeyaa Project, when various aspects of wellness will be discussed and then community members will be allowed to make their own mark on the pole.
The Kootéeyaa Project Wellbriety totem pole is taking shape at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Mt. Edgecumbe campus in Sitka, and all community members are invited to take part in the carving of the pole.

The Kootéeyaa Project totem will represent the Native journey to wellness, the SEARHC substance abuse and prevention treatment programs, and the process of transformation to and the continuing journey of "Wellbriety." Wellbriety is part of a national movement that uses a Native journey to wellness - one that links physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health - as part of its process of healing the total person.

"Wellbriety Kootéeyaa means healing, hope, unity and forgiveness for Tlingit people and anyone who is working on the healing of mind, body and spirit," said Kootéeyaa Project chairwoman Roberta Kitka, a drug and alcohol treatment specialist at SEARHC's Gunaanast? Bill Brady Healing Center and Déilee H?t Safe Harbor House.

Kitka said all community members are welcome to take part in the carving of the pole. The pole currently is being carved by Tlingit master carver Wayne Price of Haines in a shelter next to the Gunaanast? Bill Brady Healing Center on the lower part of SEARHC's Mt. Edgecumbe campus.

During the carving process, groups of about 10 community members will form several circles of healing. The members of each circle of healing will meet to discuss a particular aspect of Wellbriety, then each person will get to carve a small part of the pole.

Some of the topics that will be discussed by the circles of healing include alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, suicide, the methamphetamine epidemic, multi-generational trauma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, cancer, nicotine dependency, homelessness, Veterans issues, eating disorders and diabetes. Other circles of healing might be formed to discuss additional topics related to health and wellness.

The Kootéeyaa Project's mission statement is "to promote and demonstrate the natural partnership between health and Alaskan cultures through the embodiment of wellness, community collaboration and traditional values."

The pole is scheduled to be raised on Oct. 14 at a location TBA on the SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe campus in Sitka. The Kootéeyaa Project received funding from the J.M. Murdock Charitable Trust.

"This totem pole will be a tremendous symbol of hope and inspiration for those working to improve the quality of their and their families' lives," said Mark Gorman, the Vice President of Community Health Services for SEARHC.

For more information about the Kootéeyaa Project, contact Roberta Kitka at 966-8603 or roberta.kitka@searhc.org.

To learn about the various circles of healing and how to participate in one of them, contact project coordinator James Diffin at 966-8879 or james.diffin@searhc.org.


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