Remembering a dedicated leader
Voice of the Tundra
Twenty-four years ago this Sunday one of the Delta’s most memorable leaders died. He was recognized and respected for his dedication and commitment to improving the quality of life of the state’s rural residents. As a former mayor of Bethel, corporate director and entrepreneur, the Napaimiut-born traditional leader was known for his generosity and fondness of elders and young people. Hundreds of people attended the memorial services for the one known as Chief Eddie Hoffman.
Chief Hoffman was outspoken. He was blunt and unafraid to champion the causes of the Delta’s residents. As an early leader in the land claims movement, his words were often quoted by others to emphasize the rightness of the cause. His words inspired so many others that it seemed no public policy debate would be complete without some reference to issues championed by the Chief.
Sue Gamache, then a vice president of Calista, the regional corporation, summed it up in words that still provoke thoughts of the promises of the cause. Here are a few words of her poem “Hail to the Chief, who told it to us straight.”
You bawled us out and gave us hell,
but deep inside we knew you meant well.
You were always there to lend a hand,
to fight a cause or save our land.
It is only fitting that as you drive down the Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway or visit the Chief Eddie Hoffman Senior Center, you take a few moments to reflect on the contributions of someone who gave so much in a lifetime of service.