Kuskokwim Native leader Mellick dies

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Kuskokwim Native leader Nick Mellick Jr. has died at the age of 71.

Mellick, who died last week of an apparent heart attack, was a bush pilot, lodge owner, fishing guide, fur trader, businessman and historian on the middle Kuskokwim River.

He was born and raised in Sleetmute. Known by the nickname ''Nixe,'' Mellick was a natural leader and a hard worker who excelled at everything he tried, say those who knew him. He was not afraid to speak his mind even if it made him unpopular, said brother Pete Mellick, the tribal administrator in Sleetmute.

Mellick was at one time chairman of the Kuskokwim Corp. and also a board member of the Native corporation. He was perhaps best known in the region as an air taxi pilot who started his own flying service and flew for 50 years.

Mellick was keenly interested in Alaska's Native history and in the stories of the elders. He wrote and taped many hours of oral histories and sent copies of his work to the University of Alaska archives.

''He was quite a character, very smart and concerned about the corporation,'' said Tiny Fredericks, a current corporation board member and Mellick's brother-in-law. ''He also didn't mind screaming at you at any time, which he did quite a few times during our annual shareholders meeting.''

Mellick studied business at Bowling Green University in Ohio and also was an avid reader and wine connoisseur.

Pete Mellick said he was a conservationist as well as a skilled businessman. He purposely entertained just a few clients annually at his lodge because he was concerned about protecting the land and subsistence resources, he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. He was concerned about the future of wildlife management in the state and the loss of Native traditions, he said.

Mellick's father was a Yugoslavian immigrant and a trader in Sleetmute. His mother came from the upper Holitna area. He is survived by his wife, Margie, four children and eight grandchildren.

Mellick was buried Sunday.

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