If Appointed, Mary Nanuwak Would Become Only Woman On Bethel City Council

May 22, 2018

Bethel City Council will vote on whether to appoint Yup'ik elder Mary Nanuwak to the body during its meeting on May 22, 2018. Nanuwak would fill the vacancy left by former council member Naim Shabani. Nanuwak is pictured here in 2016 during her unsuccessful campaign for Bethel City Council.
Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

Bethel City Council will vote whether to appoint Yup’ik elder Mary Nauwak to the body during Tuesday's meeting. Nanuwak would replace former council member Naim Shabani, who is leaving his two-year term five months after his election. Nanuwak is the only person who submitted paperwork to fill Shabani’s seat.

Nanuwak is well known to the Council and a familiar voice to anyone who listens to KYUK’s live broadcasts of the meetings. For years she has spoken at the opening of nearly every meeting, filling her allotted five minutes during the “People to be Heard” part of the agenda. Her comments often protest alcohol sales and call for more mental health resources.

Nanuwak is a former nurse who has been living in Bethel on and off since the 1960s. She has run for City Council in the past and submitted her name for other Council vacancies, but has never served. If appointed, Nanuwak would be the only woman and only fluent Yup’ik speaker on Bethel City Council.