About Us

Lena Sours and Esther Jessup
Lena Sours and Esther Jessup


The Native Village of Kotzebue is the Federally-recognized Tribal government representing the Qikiktagrukmiut, the original inhabitants of the area of northwest Alaska surrounding modern day Kotzebue (Qikiktagruk). The Tribe, a sovereign entity, is commonly called the Kotzebue IRA due to its organization pursuant to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and as amended for Alaska in 1936.

Membership of the Kotzebue IRA is estimated at 2500 persons, most of who belong to the original families of Qikiktagruk, although native peoples from other Tribes are members of the Kotzebue IRA.


The main goal and driving force of the Tribe is to serve our members by providing them the maximum amount of benefit possible with the resources available. A large part of the Tribes responsibility is the administration of Federal programs and services directed at Native Americans. Besides the social and service programs such as Realty, General Assistance, Child Welfare, Enrollment, and Education, efforts are being made to expand the Tribes mission through the creation of a Tribal immersion school (Nikaitchuat Ilisagviat), development of a housing program, and creating economic projects, such as a facility to manufacture foam house panels and a game meat/fish processing business.

The Tribe is also involved with the management of the Natural Resources that sustain our members and provide the base for our culture, which includes cooperative research efforts and Environmental Protection. Legislative issues that may impact the lives of Tribal members are monitored and the Tribe advocates for policies that will result in the greatest social justice for our members. The Tribe also promotes Inupiaq celebrations and incorporates Inupiaq values whenever the opportunity presents itself (Inupiaq Ilitqusiat).


Qikiktagruk is located in northwest Alaska, 30 miles above the Arctic Circle on the Baldwin Peninsula, which is bordered on one side by a large estuarine environment called Kobuk Lake by local residents. The other side of the Peninsula, and the side that the community of Kotzebue is located on, borders the Chukchi Sea by way of Kotzebue Sound. Other major features of the area include the deltas of three large rivers, the Kobuk, Noatak, and Selawik, and the presence of mountain ranges on the mainland across from the peninsula, these being part of a larger group of mountains collectively referred to as the Brooks Range or Minumirauq and Qipaluq.

To learn more about our country use your search engine and the keywords such as: Kotzebue, Noatak National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern, Kobuk Valley National Park and Selawik Wildlife Refuge.

Because of the historical anthropological significance of a large part of the Tribes traditional territory, and due to its undeveloped nature, it was designated of national significance in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Land Claims, to become the Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Noatak National Preserve, and the Kobuk National Park. Our members continue to camp and harvest natural resources from these area's and in fact a large part of the designating legislation is dedicated to the importance of these places to local residents and their continued use and access to meet their cultural and nutritional needs.

Tribal Council

A eight member Council directs the Tribe while serving staggered three-year terms.

The Council is elected from the membership during the Tribes annual meeting held in mid-April.


Contact information for council members can be found here.

  • Robert Schaeffer, Chairperson
    2017-2019 Term
  • Dominic Ivanoff, Vice-Chairperson
    2015-2018 Term
  • Christopher Collins, Treasurer
    2016-2019 Term
  • Elizabeth Ferguson, Member
    2015-2018 Term
    To use restricted property as collateral to obtain a loan from a lending institution.
  • John Lincoln, Member
    2017-2020 Term
  • Cyrus Harris, Member
    2016-2019 Term
  • Guy Adams, Member
    2017-2020 Term
  • Mary Ann Wilson, Elder Representative & Secretary
    2016-2018 Term
    To remove restrictions placed on the property by the Federal Government.
Finance Committee

All Members

Education Committee

Robert Schaeffer
Elizabeth Ferguson
Ernie Norton
Mary Schaeffer

Enrollment Committee

Cyrus Harris
Guy Adams
Lena Hanna
York Mendenhall

Housing Committee

Cyrus Harris
York Mendenhall
Lena Hanna
Christopher Collins
Red Seeburger

Social Services Committee

Dominic Ivanoff
Cyrus Harris
Lena Hanna
Elizabeth Ferguson
Mary Schaeffer
Daphne Wallace

Transportation Committee

Dominic Ivanoff
John Lincoln
Robert Schaeffer
Guy Adams

Organizational Representatives
Alaska Inter-Tribal Council

All Council Members

Chukchi Community College

Lena Hanna
Elizabeth Ferguson - Alternate

Maniilaq Association

Guy Adams
York Mendenhall - Alternate

Northwest Inupiaq Housing Authority

Cyrus Harris

Alaska Village Initiatives

Robert Schaeffer

Inupiat Ilitqusiat

Every Inupiaq is responsible to all other Inupiat for the survival of our cultural spirit, and the values and traditions through which it survives.

Through our extended family, we retain, teach and live our Inupiaq way:

  • Respect for Elders
  • Knowledge of Language
  • Love for Children
  • Knowledge of Family Tree
  • Respect for Others
  • Responsibility to Tribe
  • Respect for Nature
  • Hunter Success
  • Domestic Skills
  • Family Roles
  • Sharing
  • Cooperation
  • Humility
  • Avoid Conflict
  • Hard Work
  • Humor
  • Spirituality
Ice fishing