Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Flora B. Johnson – Mother and Educator

Flora Johnson enjoys picking berries. Photo by Shannon Johnson

My aunt, Flora B. Johnson (Koyukon Athabascan), is from Allakaket along the Koyukuk River. Her parents were the late Edward and Elizabeth Bergman. I’ve admired her for her storytelling and the love she has for her family and communities. She agreed to share her story on the Athabascan Woman Blog.

Flora moved to Iliamna with her husband in 1980. They enrolled their oldest daughter, Shannon, to Newhalen School. Her husband began working at the electric co-op. Life was tough back then and the only job she could find was babysitting. She said, “It turned out that I like kids and my house was always full of happy kids.” Continue reading “Flora B. Johnson – Mother and Educator”

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Ricko DeWilde on Life Below Zero

Ricko DeWilde on the river. Photo by Life Below Zero

My cousin, Ricko DeWilde, joined the Life Below Zero show on National Geographic. If you recall, I featured him on my blog in 2014 (Ricko DeWilde – Making It In Two Worlds). I thought it would be a great time to get an update from him.

I appreciate the way Ricko shares our way of life as Koyukon Athabascan people and rural Alaskan life. He shares our way of survival. A few years ago, he shared some of his moose hunting and cultural videos. It caught the attention of National Geographic talent scouts. And his story began with Life Below Zero. Continue reading “Ricko DeWilde on Life Below Zero”

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Poem by Crystal Dzehgak Frank

Crystal Dzehgak Frank and her late Shitsuu Naomi. Courtesy photo

Crystal Dzehgak Frank’s mom, Caroline Tritt-Frank, was recently featured on the Athabascan Woman Blog. Dzehgak shared her poetry with me and graciously agreed to share one of them. It is a beautiful tribute to her late grandmother or shitsuu, Naomi Tritt (Gwich’in) ~ 1926-2017. Continue reading “Poem by Crystal Dzehgak Frank”

Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Caroline Tritt-Frank – Gwich’in Language Educator

Caroline Tritt-Frank studying by headlamp. Photo by Kenneth Frank

Caroline Tritt-Frank (Gwich’in) was recently named a 2020 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner through the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)! I reached out to her to learn more about her and her accomplishments. UAF alumni are selected for the award based on meritorious service on behalf of UAF, distinguished accomplishments in business and professional life, or distinguished human service in community affairs. She is a lead teacher at the Fairbanks Native Association. Continue reading “Caroline Tritt-Frank – Gwich’in Language Educator”

Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Reflections from Vina Bilow

Vina Bilow. Courtesy photo

My aunt, Vina Bilow (Koyukon Athabascan), recently shared her reflections on moving to Fairbanks from Huslia. She shared some stories and gave some really great advice about living a sustainable lifestyle. She graciously allowed me to share some of it. She’s a fellow writer, and I love reading her stories and reflections.

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It has been three years since I left Huslia and moved into Town (aka Fairbanks). That was the longest—26 years—that I have lived in my home village. I left at age 14 to attend Mt Edgecumbe High School in Sitka or as it was known as way back in 1961 Mt. Edgecumbe Alaska. I was home just for the summers, graduated in May 1965 and joined the Women’s Army Corp the following September for my three-year enlistment tour, so 14 + 26 = 40 years in the village and 33 years elsewhere.

I made quite a few changes in the last three years, plus made changes in my life before that, for several reasons; some for my health, some in lifestyle, others for financial reasons, and whatever else. Continue reading “Reflections from Vina Bilow”