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Dillingham’s city council votes to accept donation from Curyung Tribe ahead of final decision

Courtesy of Brian Venua

Dillingham’s City Council voted to accept a $2.5 million donation from the Curyung Tribe at the February 1 meeting. A February 8 press release posted on the Tribe’s Facebook page, however, said that the resolution was premature.

According to the council’s resolution, the Tribe directed that more than half of the donation, $1.5 million, to go toward the construction of a new fire hall. $750,000 would go toward harbor improvements and $250,000 would go toward creating a park at the harbor. At the meeting, Acting City Manager Kimberly Johnson said the donation had been taken up by the Tribe’s finance committee and still needed to be approved by the Curyung Tribal Chiefs.

Johnson said the donation would in part help the city to increase its match money required to secure grants to pay for needed infrastructure.

In its press release, the Curyung Tribe said that while it is discussing projects that will serve its Tribal citizens and that may include donations to the city, the Tribe has not approved a donation.

During the meeting’s public comment period, there were questions about whether Johnson, who is both a Member Chief and city employee, had a conflict of interest. A few residents expressed concern that some tribal members were unaware of the donation, or that there was not enough transparency about the decision. Johnson said that while she sits on the Curyung Finance Committee, she did not make the motion for the donation.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Christina McDermott began reporting for KDLG, Dillingham’s NPR member station, in March 2023. Previously, she worked with KCBX News in San Luis Obispo, California, where she focused on local news and cultural stories. She’s passionate about producing evocative, sound-rich work that informs and connects the public.