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Vernon Chimegalrea is Yup'ik and was born and raised in Bethel, Alaska, but also has family roots in Napakiak, Alaska. He holds a bachelors degree in linguistics with an emphasis on Eskimo languages from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and worked as a translator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ANCSA 14(h)(1) Program in the 1980s. He assisted Robert Drozda in conducting oral history interviews with Yup'ik speaking elders in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region about traditionally used historic places and location of cemetery sites. He translated the spoken Yup'ik into English during the interviews. Vernon also has served as vice-president of programs at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, worked as a consultant with "Hands Across Alaska" to conduct cultural awareness workshops, has been a newscaster for Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, and from 2001-2005 was a conservation and cultural advisor for the Smithsonian Institution Arctic Studies Center's "Sharing Our Knowledge" project. In addition, Vernon is a traditional Yup’ik singer and musician, and has worked with the Nunamta Yup’ik Eskimo Singers and Dancers. In 2011, Vernon was hired as the Community Development and Sustainability Coordinator for Donlin Gold, a company proposing a gold mine near the Kuskowkim River.