SEARHC clinics to close for Elizabeth Peratrovich Day

February 07 2014

JUNEAU – All SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) clinics as well as administrative offices will be closed on Monday, February 17, to honor the achievements of Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich.

While the outpatient clinics will be closed on Monday, February 17, SEARHC will have on-call staff available to provide emergency care at those clinics that offer emergency services. Regular staff will be working at S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital to take care of hospitalized patients.

It was Peratrovich’s impassioned testimony before the Alaska Territorial Legislature in 1945 that led to the passage of an Anti-Discrimination Bill eliminating the blatant discrimination policies faced by Alaska Natives. On February 16, 1945, Territorial Governor Ernest Gruening signed the Act into law, marking the first anti-discrimination bill introduced and passed in Alaska. It was enacted nearly 20 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to the bill being passed, Alaska Natives were treated as second-class citizens, having difficulty finding housing, regularly seeing signs banning Native entry to public facilities, and subject to many Alaska businesses unwilling to serve them.

On February 6, 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16 as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, using the anniversary date of the bill’s signing in 1945, in order to honor her contributions; "for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska." It is a day set aside so Alaskans can pause to remember the former Grand Camp President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and honor her efforts to preserve equality and justice for all Alaskans regardless of race, creed and ethnic background.

Elizabeth Peratrovich Day is a special day for SEARHC’s Alaska Native patients and staff. It is important that SEARHC honors her accomplishments and legacy.