The Board also authorized establishment of a Community and Tribal Support Fund within Chugach Natives Trust. This fund reallocates money, which was previously budgeted to assist with regional economic and strategy development, to support the immediate needs of the four villages in our region (Chenega, Nanwalek, Port Graham and Tatitlek), and our three communities (Cordova, Seward and Valdez) to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The funds will be distributed through Chugachmiut.
Another impact of COVID-19 is the need to postpone all of our upcoming informational meetings. Our first concern is the safety and well-being of our shareholders, employees and the communities where we all live. Traveling to our villages and assembling in large groups creates a high chance of spreading the coronavirus, and we do not want to expose anyone to this risk. We will reschedule these meetings at a date and time when COVID-19 exposure has been drastically lessened or eliminated.
In addition to postponing the informational meetings, we are relocating this year’s annual meeting from Seattle to Anchorage. This will reduce the need to travel for many participants and attendees, and significantly lower exposure to COVID-19 for our shareholders, board and management.
We are proceeding under the assumption that circumstances will change for the better between now and October. However, if we do not see an improvement in the spread of COVID-19, we may need to postpone or livestream the annual meeting. We will release the updated location and dates for the annual meeting as soon as possible, and we will keep you informed about the annual meeting status in future communications.
The Board and I are proud to serve the Chugach community, and we welcome the opportunity to connect with our shareholders at the informational meetings and at the annual meeting, but we will not do so if we are putting any of you in harm’s way.
I have faith that we will make it to the other side of what COVID-19 puts before us. Until then, I would ask that the entire Chugach family—shareholders, descendants, employees and friends—do all that you can to thank and assist our first responders, doctors, nurses and public servants who stand at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. This is especially true when it comes to organizations such as Chugachmiut and the workers who deliver healthcare services throughout the Chugach region.
In closing, I would remind you that we, as a people, have faced many adversities in the past. Shortly after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, beloved Elder and Chugach leader Walter Meganack said, “We will learn from the past, we will learn from each other and we will live. And where there is life, there is hope. God Bless you.” Walter’s words were meaningful after the spill, and they still resonate to this day, especially when applied to the uncertainty and difficulties that lie ahead.
We have also built a page on the Chugach website dedicated to COVID-19 information and prevention measures that can be found here, and we encourage you to visit this resource and our Facebook page for reliable news and updates. Above all, make sure our Elders do not struggle or go without, and take care of yourselves and each other.
Chairman of the Board
Interim President & CEO