In 1973, members of the Chugach Natives Incorporated (CNI) Board of Directors met and decided to form a non-profit corporation to advance the overall economic, social and cultural development of the people of the Chugach Region.
In 1974, the North Pacific Rim Native Corporation was incorporated as a not-for-profit to serve the Natives of the communities of Chenega Bay, Cordova, English Bay, Port Graham, Seward, Tatitlek, and Valdez. The first Board of Directors consisted of Chairman Pro-Tem Cecil Barnes, Walter Meganack, Sr., Lydia Robart, Roy Roehl, Seraphim Ukatish, Vincent Kvasnikoff, Ed Haltness, Betty Ditman, John Borodkin, Jim Foode, Dan Wheeler, and George Allen. The initial Executive Director, Archie Gottschalk, began in 1974.
The newly established corporation began its efforts on behalf of the region with a total budget of just under $200,000. $97,971 was received from the Johnson O’Malley program for a Student Counselor Program headed by R.J. Kopchak, and a Bi-lingual/ Bi-cultural Program headed by Derenty Tabios. RurAL Cap granted the Rim $7,500 for Community Organization and Community Action, with Susan LaBelle, our current Community and Social Services Division Director, as a community organizer specifically for Port Graham and Nanwalek (or English Bay, as it was known then). CETA funds in the amount of $52,318 were made available to train two community organizers within the region, one of whom was Agnes Nichols. Agnes was responsible for identifying and documenting health related concerns and problems throughout the region. AFN funds in the amount of $20,000 were utilized to develop a minimal health department through an AFN Health Affairs Contract, along with an additional $20,862 from AFN’s Manpower resources. During the first year of program operations, the Rim played a significant role in helping Port Graham secure a new elementary school through the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and worked to get local high school programs for Port Graham and English Bay.
North Pacific Rim
In 1976, the Corporation was renamed “The North Pacific Rim”, and in 1977, Chugach Native Incorporated transferred board responsibilities to the communities of the region. The bylaws were changed by resolution to allow each community to select a representative to serve on the Board of Directors. The newly formed board was made up of Nick Kompkoff, Jr. of Chenega Bay; Steve Tanape of English Bay; Kathy Anderson of Eyak; Lydia Robart of Port Graham; Esther Ronne of Seward; Myra Allan of Tatitlek, and, within a few months, Helmer Olson of Valdez.
Since these small but important beginnings, the Chugach Region has experienced many changes and witnessed much history. We have seen the formation of the North Pacific Rim Housing Authority and the Chugach Regional Resources Commission, the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and the mystery of the missing oysters. We’ve seen the village of Chenega Bay re-established, English Bay change to Nanwalek, the North Pacific Rim Native Corporation become the North Pacific Rim and then Chugachmiut, and Seward’s Mount Marathon Native Association become the Qutekcak Native Tribe. We have seen many board, staff and community members come and go, and have memories of each of them. We have been involved in the formation of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Compact and seen the ground breaking, construction, inauguration and tribal operation of the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, and new clinics in many of our communities. We have witnessed Chugachmiut change into an organization that manages over $14 million in funding for the region each year, and seen the benefits of self-determination and sovereignty in action when the Valdez Native Tribe began administration of its IHS and BIA programs and when the Native Village of Eyak in Cordova assumed responsibility of its DOI/BIA programs.
Over the years – from our first office space rented from CNI to our current location on Bragaw Street – our funding, staff, and services have dramatically increased. From our modest beginnings offering education, training, and community organization opportunities, we have increased program services to include Community Health Aides and Practitioners, Contract Health Care, Community Health Representatives, substance abuse treatment and prevention, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes prevention and case management, maternal health, forestry, child care, Head Start, Elders, ICWA, housing, tribal law and much more.
We look forward to an abundant and fulfilling continuation of our service to the Native people and communities of the Chugach Region.