Former Kotzebue mayor to head western Arctic national park units

A former Kotzebue mayor who helped host President Barack Obama on his historic Alaska trip last year will be the new superintendent for national parks in western Arctic Alaska.

Maija Katak Lukin has been selected as superintendent for Western Arctic Parklands and will oversee operations in Noatak National Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park and Cape Krusenstern National Monument, the National Park Service said Wednesday.

Lukin, who is of Inupiat and Finnish ancestry, has deep ties to that area, the Park Service said in a statement. She grew up at a family fish camp on the shores of Cape Krusenstern and was the first Alaska Native woman to serve as mayor of Kotzebue, a city of 3,200, the Park Service said.

She currently works as the tribal environmental manager for the nonprofit Maniilaq Association and is married with four children. She also presented information at last year's Paris climate conference.

"Ms. Lukin's local knowledge, lifelong connection to Cape Krusenstern and subsistence and her strong management experiences in the Arctic positions her for the challenges that face the parks," Bert Frost, the Park Service's Alaska regional director, said in the statement.

"She is a thoughtful, accomplished leader and manager. Ms. Lukin provides a uniquely qualified mix of strong, ethical and credible Arctic leadership, while bringing important additional life skills and experiences to the National Park Service to assist in community relationship building, subsistence management and preparing for changes in the arctic climate," he said.

Lukin will start her new position in October, the Park Service said.

Yereth Rosen

Yereth Rosen was a reporter for Alaska Dispatch News.