Kuigpagmiut: Regional Tribal Government

by Nick P. Andrew, Jr.

Tribal leaders on the Lower Yukon River region have the choice to reconsider restructuring and reestablishing Kuiggpagmiut, Inc. that ceased operations in the 1990’s.

Kuiggpagmiut, Inc. served as the non-profit Native tribal consortium on the Lower Yukon River. First of all consider the following tribes within our distinct region: Alakanuk Traditional Tribal Council, Algaaciq Tribal Government, Bill Moore’s Slough, Chevak Traditional Council, Chuloonawick Native Village, Emmonak Tribal Council, Hamilton Tribal Council, Iquirmuit Traditional Council, Native Village of Marshall, Native Village of Nunam Iqua, Native Village of Ohogamiut, Native Village of Hooper Bay, Kotlik Traditional Council, Pilot Station Traditional Council, Paimuit Tribal Council, Scammon Bay Traditional Council, and Yupiit of Andreafski.

Our villages have the human resources and leadership to reinstate Kuiggpagmiut as a regional tribal government versus a state chartered non-profit corporation to rightfully pursue our inherent rights for tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and self-governance for the continued health, safety, and welfare of our people.

As a regional federally recognized tribal government of potentially seventeen (17) tribes, Kuiggmagmiut will be structured embracing our traditional and customary Yup’ik values, to fight for our Native rights and safeguard our relationship with the land, water, and resources.

It is time we affirm our inherent sovereignty, which must never be alienated by state corporate limitations and guidelines. Our people deserve a brighter future, to have hope, and we must also be mindful for those yet to be born so they may inherit their rightful heritage as Yup’ik people.

The regional tribal government concept will ensure that “our way of life” will never be compromised, secured by proactive leadership via delegate tribal leaders, and an executive council that will possess sovereign and plenary power to legislate for and to govern, conduct and manage the affairs of the regional tribal government.

Kuiggpagmiut’s administration may include: President, Chief Operating Officer Tribal Operations, Chief Financial Officer, Business & Economic Development, Manager Child Care, Headstart Director, Manager of Human Resources, Manager of Information Technology, Manager of Native Lands & Resources, Manager of Program Compliance, Manager of Public Safety, Manager Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Manager Tribal Child Support Unit, Presiding Judge Tribal Court, Tribal Family & Youth Services, Manager Tribal Vocational Rehab., Tribal Transportation, Vocational Training & Resource Center, and other programs and services for the unmet needs of our region.

Be advised that Kuiggpagmiut will improve the lives of our people who live in the Kusilvak Census Area, the poorest census area of the nation. As our population continues to grow, the economy remains dormant due to lack of jobs, and sustainable economic development opportunities entrapping our people into poverty and other alarming disparities.

Elected tribal officials and the general tribal members must be made aware of the regional tribal government concept and the benefits to the Lower Yukon River area tribes if chosen.

The regional tribal government shall be a constitutional consortium of sovereign tribal governments for the benefit of tribal members that respects the traditions of the Yup’ik culture, to also strive to improve the quality of life for our people through the consortium of village governments to strengthen our political voice for improved relations with other governments foreign and domestic, subsistence advocacy to protect our traditional and customary subsistence rights our people rely on for sustenance and wellbeing, establishment of tribal justice to carry-out justice systems including tribal police and social services pursuant to Yup’ik Tribal law, and for improving regional economic development that will generate sustainable regional long-term economic growth and employment opportunities.

This endeavor will require a region-wide consensus, seed funding, consultation, a gathering site, and facilitators. Planning and development shall include devising the constitution, mission statement, management, logistics, and site of operations.

Though this merely an idea, it is worth considering. We on the Lower Yukon River have much to gain creating our own regional tribal government that focuses on our people now and into perpetuity. The shackles of the status quo must be broken.

Nick P. Andrew, Jr. is a Tribal Member of the Native Village of Marshall.