James LaBelle, Sr. was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is Inupiaq and his family originated in Kotzebue, Alaska. He is a tribal member of the Native Village of Port Graham and a shareholder in the Chugach Alaska Corporation. He has been married for 50 years to his wife Susan T. LaBelle. They have three adult children and seven grandchildren. James is a boarding school survivor from 1955 to 1965. He is a Vietnam Era/US Navy veteran. James attended Alaska Methodist University from 1970 to 1973 receiving his bachelor’s degree and attended UAF and received his master’s degree in Rural Development in 2006. He retired as Term Instructor from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2011 in the Alaska Native Studies Department lecturing on Historical Trauma with an emphasis on boarding schools.
James has served on many different boards and commissions over the years, including Chugach Alaska Corporation, Alaska Federation of Natives, Bridge Builders, Boarding School National Native American Healing Coalition, and Alaska Native Veterans Council. James is interested in being on Alaska Pacific University’s Elder’s Council because he has expertise in leadership and would like to assist in policy reform and curriculum development.