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.