Bristol Bay Village Representative
Thomas Tilden advocates for his hometown and the people of Bristol Bay as Chief of the Curyung Tribal Council, a native tribe of 2,400 adjacent to Dillingham (the town of Dillingham’s original Yupik name is also Curyung). The Curyung Tribal Council has approved a resolution against the Pebble Mine.
Thomas is a former councilman and Mayor of Dillingham, member of the Bristol Bay Native Association, Chair for Indian Education at the Dillingham City School District, board member for Choggiung Ltd and Nunamta Alukestai and a village representative on the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors.
“I am going to London to let Anglo American know who we the people of Curyung are and how dependent we are on the land,” Tilden said. “We are people of salmon. I want the people of London to taste our fish, a staple of our diet and the symbol of who we are and our culture. Salmon inspire us to create art and dance; we depend on them culturally and for economic opportunities.”
Born in Dillingham in 1953 to Mary and Earl Tilden, Thomas and his family moved from Dillingham to Portage Creek along the Nushagak River when he was a young child. He learned how to hunt, fish and gather berries, game and plants to help sustain their lifestyle. He is the father of two sons and four daughters and has eight grandchildren.
He was sent to high school in Dillingham and went to the University of Nagoya Japan and the University of Alaska in his senior year of high school. He went on to school in the Seward Skill Center to get his cooking diploma and worked on the North Slope as a baker. Thomas has worked on seafood processors as a cook and for the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation as a safety instructor, tobacco cessation trainer and cook supervisor. He now works as a call-in cook for Kanakanak Hospital.
“Our salmon spawning beds are right where they want to dig up gold and copper,” Tilden said. “I want Anglo American’s shareholders to know that salmon are easily harmed by changes in their environment.”