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Irene Tagumaaq Aukongak was born on January 2, 1937 in the village of Upper Kalskag, Alaska. Her father was a fur trapper so the family moved around a lot, and the children missed a lot of school. Eventually, she and her younger sister spent three years at the Holy Cross Mission school in Holy Cross, Alaska. From 1954 to 1955, Irene attended licensed practical nurse training at Mt. Edgecumbe School in Sitka, Alaska. She got a job as a nurse at the Alaska Native hospital in Anchorage, where she met and married Siegfried Aukongak from Golovin. In 1956, they moved back Golovin, and because of her nursing background she was asked to help with visiting doctors and nurses. At the time, there was no official community health aide program, so Irene did the work without being paid until the late 1960s when the community health aide program was established by the US Public Health Service and later taken over by Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Alaska. Irene retired from being a health aide in 2002. In recognition of her contributions to the village, the health clinic in Golovin is now named the "Irene L. Aukongak Dagumaaq Health Clinic." For more about Irene Aukongak, listen to an interview with her conducted in 2011 for KNOM radio station's Elder Voices series.