To know our history is to know pride, tragedy, hope, and renewal. March 27, known as Chenega Day, has been a devastating day in history for the Chenega tribe.
The people of the Chenega Tribe have lived in the Prince William Sound for some 10,000 years, fishing the waters and harvesting the abundance of their land. Tragically, on Good Friday, March 27, 1964, the village of Chenega was destroyed by a tsunami created by a massive 9.2 magnitude earthquake. The disaster took the lives of a third of the members of the Chenega tribe and washed away centuries of history built on this land.
Eventually, the strength of the people of Chenega carried them to a new location, still in the Prince William Sound, to rebuild what they had lost. After finally settling in to the new site, tragedy struck again. Twenty-five years to the day after the tsunami, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in the Prince William Sound. It spilled millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, crippling the tribe’s subsistence of life and wiping out their sole means of livelihood–fishing. The tribe was once again forced to start over.
Through disasters, the villagers persevered, and that is where Chenega’s mission began. In 1997, Chenega Corporation sold a portion of its native land to the United States Forest Service and the State of Alaska “Habitat Transaction.” They used this capital gain to form a strategic plan that would give back to the village for years to come. To this day, Chenega is proud to benefit the Native shareholders through 100% of the company’s profits. This is done through dividends, scholarships, educational assistance, Elders and health benefits, language and cultural preservation, and investments in the corporation that build shareholder equity and provide for healthy, sustainable corporate growth.
Learn more about the history that drives us at The History of Chenega.