Alaska Native leaders gathered to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the late Congressman Don Young (AK-R). The memorial event was hosted by Chugach Alaska Corporation (Chugach) on Tuesday, April 19th. Congressman Young’s daughters Joni Nelson and Dawn Vallely attended, alongside Chugach Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta, Koniag President Shauna Hegna, Old Harbor CEO Carl Marrs, ANCSA Regional Association (ARA) Executive Director Kim Reitmeier, and candidate for Alaska’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Tara Sweeney, among others. Senator Lisa Murkowski and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland also addressed those in attendance.

Congressman Young was best known as a fierce advocate for Alaska and the people who call the state home, earning him the title of “Congressman for All Alaska.” He was an ally to the Alaska Native people, and partner to Alaska Native regional and villagcorporations.

In her remarks, Hegna highlighted Congressman Young’s remarkable career spanning nine presidential terms. “He served as Congress’ institutional memory and Alaska’s indispensable representative. His work became legendary.” She went on to describe how he saw 123 bills signed into law during his tenure, and his service to Alaskans not only through his words, but also his actions.

Senator Murkowski reflected on Congressman Young’s love for the state and directed this comment to Secretary Haaland regarding her visit to Alaska: “This is an opportunity for you to understand and see first-hand what an extraordinary state we have, and how blessed we are with the resources we have – not only what God has given us in the ground and the waters but also the human resource of its people.”

In a final toast of the evening, Chugach Chairman of the Board Sheri Buretta recalled her time spent with Congressman Young and the deep bond and friendship forged over their passion for doing the right thing for Alaska. “I’ve been doing this job for 25 years and have had the opportunity to visit with the Congressman in Washington, D.C. each year. It’s important to take this moment to recognize and honor the passage of time, and to pay tribute to Congressman Young’s service and dedication to our state.”

Young was first elected to the U.S. House in 1973 and has held it ever since. He served in Congress for 49 years. During his tenure, he paved the way for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which would become an economic engine for the state. He worked tirelessly as a champion for Alaska Native rights, from protecting subsistence rights, to advocating for capital spending in rural Alaska, to supporting the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. His contributions to Alaska are matched only by his larger-than-life personality – both of which will not be soon forgotten.

Our condolences and deepest sympathies go out to Congressman Young’s family. We mourn with you and share in the pain of your loss. May his memory be eternal.

In lieu of donations, Congressman Young’s family asks that individuals consider donating to one or both of the following charities in his honor:

  • Lu Young Children’s Fund for Alaska Native Children ( The Lu Young Children’s Fund was created in 2004 to leave a legacy of support for Alaska’s Native children and their families. Through the fund, outreach and support is provided to these children and families who need and deserve to live happier, healthier lives. The Lu Young Children’s Fund (LYCF) is organized under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations to LYCF are deductible for federal income tax purposes. LYCF can receive individual and corporate donations without limit.

The Lu Young Children’s Fund
P.O. Box 27924
Washington, DC 20038

  • The Don Young Institute for Alaska: The purpose of The Don Young Institute for Alaska is to honor and commemorate Congressman Don Young’s long and distinguished career, to be a repository for his historical papers and artifacts for preservation, education, and research. The Institute is registered with the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and is registered (and in good standing) with the State of Alaska. Donations to the Institute are deductible for federal income tax purposes and corporations and individuals may contribute without limit.The Don Young

Institute for Alaska
3705 Arctic Blvd. #571
Anchorage, AK  99503

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