Vote in the 2023 Elections!

UPDATE: Early bird deadline extended to Close of Business, Wednesday May 17, 2023. Submit your proxy to make quorum!

UPDATE: We have received notice that some Tribal members have not yet received their proxies or ballots. You can call ONC at 907-543-2608 to request an in-person delivery or to pick up in person. Completed proxies and ballots can be dropped off in person at the ONC office from 8am-5pm Monday – Friday, or you can call to request a pick up. We apologize for this inconvenience. 

The Orutsararmiut Native Council encourages its Tribal membership to exercise their right to vote in the 2023 Council elections.  Eligible Tribal members will be sent a Tribal election ballot by mail with instructions on how to vote by mail or in person. 

Ballots will be accepted in person thru 9:00am on May 20th, 2023.   The deadline for early voting is 5 pm, May 12th, 2023.

This year, nine eligible Tribal members are running to fill seats A, B, C, and D. Read their candidacy profile below to learn more about the 2023 Council Candidates.

Seat A

Gage Hoffman

“My experience with local boards and committees includes working for AVCP as the communications director, AFN Regional Navigator, and volunteering as the assistant elementary wrestling coach. I want to serve ONC to bring a youthful perspective for the betterment of our Tribe. My priorities are the protection and growth of our culture, and financially stimulating our community without the two combatting each other. I’ve always been heavily involved with our Tribe and community.”

Henry Hunter, Sr. Current seat holder

“I am retired and have been on the ONC Council since the 1980’s. I’ve been the chairman and vice chairman off and on. Subsistence for our people is my priority. I sit on the ONC subsistence committee as the chairman. I was appointed to the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission as a member. I am a member of the Housing, Finance, and Constitution Committees as well. I have vast experience serving on boards, committees and with ONC. I have worked with the City of Bethel, YKHC, AVCP and AVCP Housing to ensure our Tribal members get the best possible care. I was a former chairman at YKHC, former chairman at AVCP, and past member of the Alaska Native Health Board, Alaska Tribal Health Consortium.  I am the current VFW post commander 10,041. I also sit on the BNC board as a member. 

I am very vocal about our way of life. If voted again I will continue to advocate for our people, here in Bethel.  I feel I am qualified to represent our people again and I appreciate your vote.”


Seat B

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Jim, Jr.
Current seat holder

“I have been an elected ONC Councilman since 2015 and appointed to Council for 1 year, 2014. I am currently the chairman of the Council and I have served as Chairman for 6 of 9 years. I am currently the Chairman of YKHC and have served as the Chairman for 5 of 6 years. I am Vice-Chair of the ANTHC. ANTHC jointly operated the Alaska Native Medical Center along with South Central Foundation. 

As a Councilman for our Tribe I believe in advocating for our people to protect our Tribal members, protect our lands, protect our waters and protect our traditional ways of life that have sustained our people. We as Yupik of our community fight to cling to that way of life that we once knew because we know and understand the foods we rely on are healthy for us and we do not want to lose that connection we have with the natural surroundings our ancestors thrived on. Our lands serve as a foundation of who we are as Yupik and we still inhabit these lands our ancestors carved a way of life on.

I have advocated to protect you and I supported decisions that benefit you because I know and understand our struggles and hardships. Quyana.”

Connie L. (Venes) Sankwich

“I am the daughter of the late Elias Venes, an ONC tribal member, BNC original shareholder, Calista shareholder, previous ONC Tribal member (2019 – 2022). I am a BRHS graduate, I have a Bachelor’s degree in education, and I am a special education teacher at LKSD. I have also been a board member of the Let Every Woman Know, Alaska (LEWK) since 2019 *Women’s Gyn Cancer Awareness and Advocacy).

I am seeking a seat on the ONC Tribal Council to represent Tribal members. Tribal members have a right to know the status of affairs within our organization. I believe I have the professionalism and Tribal governance knowledge to represent our members well. With my strong ethic and morale, I want to strengthen and unify our Tribal government through honesty, transparency, and accountability. Our Tribal legacy depends on its leaders!”

Gloria Simeon
Currently serves on seat D

“I have served our Tribe as a council member as well as Executive Director from the early 2000’s to current.  I also speak as a tribal citizen of our village where a voice is needed.  As a tribal council member, I have advocated against the proposed Donlin mine, served as a representative of the statewide Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Operation Lady Justice, participated in research to build resiliency at the local level in our battle against youth suicide.  Recently, I have also provided testimony to speak at tribal consultations on the situation we are facing with food security.  I believe in the vast potential of our tribe to provide needed services and innovative programs as well as leadership in these changing times.

Whether the proposed Donlin mine goes thru or not, we have big changes coming to our village.   Our presence must be felt and our voice heard as we enter into this new era and involve ourselves in planning for the future of our community.  Our right to subsist on our traditional and customary food, Salmon, is being threatened and must be addressed at the highest levels of government.  

A unified council with a stable and qualified workforce can bring positive change and growth for the Native Village of Mamterilleq.  We must continue to use our voice and work with our neighboring tribes to help strengthen our region and our People.  I pledge to always try to make decisions that are for the good of our tribe and its citizenry and to be a voice wherever needed.  I will not let outside interests influence my voice at the table of our Tribe.

I feel that we must revive our traditional values and cultural practices as we move forward.  By incorporating these into our daily lives, we can build resiliency and provide an example to our young People.  The ceremonies and rituals that were practiced by our ancestors to give thanks and guidance are missing. When we honor our ancestors and celebrate ourselves, the universe listens. Our young people have few opportunities to be mentored in practices that were the foundation of daily life.  Celebrating the return of the salmon every year in a village wide celebration is an example.  Honoring our young women and men in their coming-of-age ceremonies is another.”


Seat C

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Hugh A. Snyder

“I am a former marine. I joined in 1980 and was honorably discharged in 1986. I have been with Bethel Search and Rescue for over 20 years. I volunteer at the ATG park for about 5 – 6 years o far! I served 1 term on the YKHC board. I have worked at LKSD for 29 years, 28 of those years as a maintenance man. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been for 30 years now and I’m happy to state that! I fish every summer and hope I can do so until I can no longer fish alone!

I’d have to learn how the board works in dealing with other entities and the government like any new member. I would serve ONC by making informed decisions for the Tribe with the other board members.”

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Thad Tikiun
Current seat holder

“I have served as an ONC board member and I have served in committees such as finance, policy, housing, and subsistence for a number of years.  Also I am presently the chairman of the AVCP executive board for the past 4 years, and was a board member for 3 years. I served on the Federal subsistence board and State of Alaska Advisory board for Bethel. 

I am still interested in my organization and the direction it can take. With the right management of the Council, we can expand our services, become a model organization not only in housing but also the services we provide to our members. I have a very good service record of board member attendance and willing to work to improve our organization.”


Seat D

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Edward Chief, “Mister”

“Whaga, my name is Edward Chief (mister) and I was born and raised in Bethel. I am humbled to announce my candidacy for seat D for the Orutsararmiut Native Council. I believe I have much to offer in terms of helping the tribal membership move forward in issues such as self-determination and subsistence rights for our tribal membership. My background living in the native village of Bethel has been primarily a subsistence lifestyle. Recently, it has become more challenging to harvest our fish and other resources due to regulation and climate change. My promise to you as tribal members is to advocate for our tribal rights to the resource as well as being in the lead to determine our future in regards to resources.

Secondly, I have observed the ONC tribe move in positive directions with self-determination with the self-governance compact as well as compacting the housing program. I believe that if I am elected, I will provide educated direction with the program as well as enhancing existing services.

Again, I appreciate your vote and look forward to representing you on the ONC Native Council.”

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Sophie Irene Swope

“I am currently working to uplift Tribal sovereignty throughout the region with Mother Kuskokwim. I’ve served as an advisory committee for a new statewide network and am currently serving on the City Council. I believe having that City Council role, we can better our connection between Tribe and municipality.

I want to serve on the ONC Council to have a better grasp on the services available in our region that rely on our Tribe and its members. I would prioritize the ongoing fight against Donlin and modernizing Tribal member access and information on the services ONC provides. A vote for me is a vote for Bethel’s youth.”


The eligibility of each candidate has been verified by the Election Committee, and approved by ONC Council. To learn more about this process, please follow this link.

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