The Tatitlek Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation (ANC), is one of five Alaska Native Village Corporations within the geographic boundaries of the Alaska regional corporation, the Chugach Alaska Corporation, as established by Congress under terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971.
The Village of Tatitlek (population 119 in 2006) is located in northeastern Prince William Sound, 30 miles south of Valdez, Alaska, on the eastern side of the Tatitlek Narrows. It is only accessible by sea and air, and like many Alutiiq villages, its location has been moved several times. Beginning in the 19th century, its residents began trading sea otter pelts with Russians in the neighboring village of Nuchek; and by the 1890s, with American traders at the Alaska Commercial Company store in Tatitlek. Many new people came to the region in the early 1900s as prospectors and passed through the Village on their way to mines on the Copper River. A copper mine opened at nearby Ellamar in 1898 and a cannery at Ellamar (1940-1954) provided jobs for people from Tatitlek (Ellamar copper mine actually forced the Village relocation). Today many Tatitlek families participate in commercial salmon and halibut fishing.
The subsistence lifestyle continues to be an important part of Tatitlek’s culture and economy. In 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground not far from the Village of Tatitlek and spilled millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound. Although currents carried some of the oil away from the Village, much of the contamination sank. This directly reduced the harvest of subsistence species in subsequent years by 89 percent! This was a major detriment to the community’s economy. The severe impact on its residents only magnified the importance of The Tatitlek Corporation’s expansion of its successful ventures, through diversification with an eye toward long-term sustainment. The shareholder dividends (based on project profits) distributed, along with the job opportunities provided to shareholders and their descendants, have been and will continue to be increasingly important. Additionally, The Tatitlek Corporation and its subsidiaries provide educational opportunities to Village residents and other shareholders through the Corporation’s Copper Mountain Foundation.