Recall: Tanana Chiefs board votes to remove PJ Simon from chair of Native nonprofit


Many recalls have failed in Alaska over the past two years. The governor and two sitting Anchorage Assembly members have survived attempts on their leadership.

But the Tanana Chiefs Conference board of directors voted last week to recall PJ Simon from his position as chief and chairman at the Native nonprofit organization. This one worked.

He had served for a little more than a year for the organization that has a mission of advancing Tribal self-determination and enhancing regional Native unity through health care and social services. Other services include tribal development services, management of natural resources, public safety, community planning, and transportation. No reason was made public for the recall.

The full board of Tanana Chiefs Conference met at the Westmark Hotel on Dec. 14. The motion passed with 22 of 33 members voting in favor of the recall. Chief Financial Officer Brian Ridley will service as acting chief and chairman until the March meeting when the tribes will hold a special election.

In October, tribal members began openly questioning the operation of the organization. Over the following weeks, other complaints and grievances were aired in private meetings with the board; none has been made public.

Simon was born in Tanana and was raised in the Village of Allakaket by parents Pollack Sr. and Julia Simon. He finished high school in Fairbanks, moved to Galena, and became a hunting guide. Later her returned to Allakaket to care for his parents, and he became chief of the village. He served on the board of Doyon from 2014 through 2020.

Tanana Chiefs Conference includes 41 tribal entities and 20,000 tribal members.


  1. Why can this incorporated entity shed itself of a corporate person but the largest municipal corporate entity in Alaska with half the 49th state’s population affected by loss of republic Constitutional rights cannot? This is unequal treatment.

  2. Actual quote from George Armstrong Custer:
    “They shouldn’t be afraid of fighting me. They should be afraid of having to fight other Indians.”

    • Johnnie Green:
      Custer didn’t know about the rich Alaskan Indians and their billion dollar corporations, or their armies of White lawyers.

  3. Alaska Native organizations are accumulating vast amounts of financial resources. TCC very likely could write a check for more than $1 billion today. Tribal organizations, BIA health contracting organizations, and ANCSA corporations are continually receiving tens of millions of dollars each from Covid-related grants, including pass-through amounts to members. ANCSA corporations are paying shareholder CEOs as much as $5 million in annual salary plus additional remuneration. So far as I know no one is adding it all up; possibly the combined total would be larger than anything in Alaska except combined petroleum sales, Permanent Fund Corp income, and the state budget. That is, US taxpayer largess directed to Alaska Native organizations would be 4th behind those three entities so far as annual gross receipts. But note that while oil extraction costs must be paid out of petroleum sales there is very little ‘cost of good sold’ for these Native cash receipts. There is a limited amount of oversight considering the aggregated billions of dollars; most of it is even beyond the purview of the IRS.

    Simon has been at the helm of Native organizations that oppose the Ambler Road. He is able to guide out of state hunters on ANCSA land that in unavailable to non-Native guides, and he is possibly not interested in road access for other Alaskans even though the Ambler Road would be closed to non-mining use. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act ‘abolished all aboriginal rights’ by paying all people who are at least 1/4 Alaska Native, no matter where they reside, $1 billion and 44 million acres. Federal agencies are apparently unaware of this wording in ANCSA. Another part of ANCSA provided that the entire 44 million acres would become subject to property tax beginning in 1991. That provision and other so-called 1991 provisions were subsequently eliminated by the Alaska delegation to Congress.

    • Kayak, I have to challenge your numbers – yes the ANCSA Corporations make money, that is what they are supposed to do – but your numbers are too big, and you wear your envy on your sleeve and through your computer. Taxpayer largess directed their way? Not as much as you think – and the tribes are sovereign entities within the U.S. and Alaska. COVID grants to TCC were for providing vaccine to their villages – I got mine for free even though I’m not a beneficiary. PJ Simon has not done any guiding in a long time (not at all in the 20+ years I’ve known him), and then and now he cannot guide on private land without the owner’s permission – which is not given for folks who are not part of the tribe to hunt on their land. The key to understanding the Bush is to understand RESPECT – we will never find out what PJ Simon did to deserve recall, and we will never find out how much the Corporations make and are paying out in dividends – and guess what, it’s none of our business! They are not public corporations. Even in anger, TCC will give PJ respect due to his involvement and just for his being part of his village. They will not expose PJ to public ridicule or disgrace. Suzanne’s point is that the TCC is more efficiently governed than some other institutions we all know that really do need some successful recalls.

    • That is for them to address. They are private corporations. If they break the law, they are liable in federal court.

  4. Simon is rightfully fighting this. I hope he wins and exposes the corruption at TCC….just the tip of the iceberg, probably.
    Why did some board members call and even CONSIDER a secret meeting? Using Covid as an excuse for virtual meetings everywhere has to stop!!!!
    At every level, at every organization, this country has to start over by exposing and removing the ones who would change rules and keep hidden.
    Decolonialize, my foot!!!!

Comments are closed.