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Seldovia tribal leader dies at 84

Courtesy of the Elvsaas family

A prominent Seldovia tribal leader died last month. Fred Elvsaas, 84, passed away at his home on Sept. 25. Elvsaas, who was Aleut, was known for his work in the Native community around Southcentral Alaska.

He helped found the local corporation, Seldovia Native Association, and worked as its CEO for about 25 years. Seldovia resident Darlene Crawford worked with Elvsaas as the CFO.

“One of the biggest things that happened during that period of time, after years of negotiation, the corporation settled with the state on the Kachemak Bay State Park trade, which opened up the area across from Homer,” Crawford said. “It made Kachemak Bay State Park complete there.”

Crawford noted that Elvsaas was always working towards a goal for the corporation.

He also served on the Southcentral Foundation's Traditional Healing Elders’ Counsel, helping its traditional healing clinic get off the ground in Anchorage, and Elvsaas sat on the Cook Inlet Region Corporation’s board.

His granddaughter Paula Elvsaas said he also wore several hats around the Kenai Peninsula and back home in Seldovia.

“He was a part of a lot, the assembly for the Kenai Peninsula Borough, city council, he was the city manager, he was the chief of police, he was the undertaker,” she listed. “He did it all, but he loved being a commercial fisherman first and foremost.”

Elvsaas got his start in crab fishing in Kachemak Bay. He owned several boats and tendered fish, but Elvsaas spent most of his time set-netting at his fish camp off the Kustatan River on the west side of Cook Inlet.

His grandson Fred Elvsaas Jr. said he raised seven kids off profits from the camp.  

“They made a living off of it. They would go out there in April and come home just before school started,” he explained. “He spent every summer of his life there, from probably the time he was 17,18 until just before he passed away.”

The family plans to spread his ashes at the camp in the spring. A potluck was also held earlier this month in Seldovia to remember Elvsaas.