Nearly one hundred years ago on Oct. 12, 1917, the property known as Pilgrim Hot Springs was deeded by George Schofield to the Jesuit Province of California. Father Bellarmine LaFortune had been searching for a new location for the his mission, which had been established at Mary’s Igloo. The acquisition of Pilgrim Hot Springs would quickly prove to be critical as the deadly pandemic of influenza would lay waste to the region’s communities beginning in late October of 1918. Father Fortune’s focus for the Mission shifted quickly and Pilgrim became an orphanage in the wake of the epidemic.
By the late 1930’s most the orphans had grown and left the care of the Jesuits, and by 1941 firewood had become scarce and the last resident priest died, essentially ending the mission at Pilgrim. During WWII the Church allowed the use of the property for R&R for GIs stationed in Nome. In 2010 the property was purchased from the Catholic Bishop of Northern Alaska by Unaatuq, LLC, a consortium of seven region organizations: BSNC, Kawerak, Inc., Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, Teller Native Corporation, White Mountain Native Corporation, Mary’s Igloo Native Corporation, and Sitnasuak Native Corporation. Council Native Corporation recently purchased Teller Native Corporation’s interest, and BSNC serves as the managing member for Unaatuq, LLC.