Tlingit and Haida Central Council buys Juneau seafood processor

The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is set to become the new owner of Juneau-based Alaska Seafood Co., the tribe’s president said.

“We’re finalizing the deal right now and we will probably take ownership by the first of the month,” Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson said Thursday, June 22, in a phone interview.

The Alaska Seafood Co., established in 1987, is a seafood processor that sells Alaska salmon, black cod, halibut and salmon caviar including fresh, frozen, canned and smoked products. Its seafood can be found in retail stores and gift shops across the state and into the Pacific Northwest.

The company’s website proclaims it was the first seafood processor in Alaska “to take advantage of the new ‘retort pouch’ technology,” which it calls “a soft flexible flat-can technology” for producing and selling shelf-stable smoked salmon. “Since then, we have developed an entire line of shelf-stable products under the name Alaska Cannery and Smokehouse.”

Peterson said Tlingit and Haida’s purchase will include both the business itself and its facility located in Juneau’s Lemon Creek area. The tribe will take over from the current owner, Richard Hand.

Peterson said Tlingit and Haida will not disclose the purchase price of the business or facility. According to the City and Borough of Juneau assessor’s office, the property is valued at about $827,000.

Peterson said the purchase of the business aligns with the tribe’s core values and aids Tlingit and Haida in its pursuit of economic sovereignty. He pointed to the tribe’s purchase in March of the Driftwood Lodge, a three-story, 62-unit hotel in Juneau, as another example of the tribe’s mission to diversify its economic opportunities.

“We’re looking at ways to promote employment opportunities and sustainable economic growth,” he said. “We talk a lot about economic sovereignty and you’re seeing the tribes exercise that, and for some reason it’s catching a lot of people’s interest that the tribes are doing these things. My question is, ‘Why hasn’t the tribe been doing these things?’”

Peterson said though owning a hotel and owning a seafood business are quite different, both purchases will support the tribe’s efforts to meet the needs of its citizens.

“If you look at what we do as a tribe, a hotel makes sense and if you look at us as a tribe a fish processing plant makes sense,” he said. “Now, does a fish processing plant and a hotel make sense together? Maybe not — but they do for our needs and it just really fits our checklist.”


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