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Lillian Moonin Elvsaas was born in 1949 in Port Graham, Alaska. She is of Russian/Swedish and Alutiq descent and has lived in Port Graham and Seldovia, Alaska. After the cannery in Port Graham burned down in the 1950s, her family would temporarily relocate to Seldovia every spring for the fishing season and return to Port Graham in the fall. Her father was a commercial fisherman and her mother worked in the canneries. Lillian attended Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon for her four years of high school and then returned to live in Seldovia. She has strong connections to the Russian Orthodox church in both communities, and her grandfather, Reverend Nicholas Moonin, was a priest in Nanwalek (formerly English Bay). Lillian married Peter Ivor Elvsaas, Sr. (1930-2003) and raised four children, is the vice-president of the Seldovia Village Tribe Council, and currently resides in Homer, Alaska.