Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Walter Harper Day

Photo of Walter Harper courtesy of the Walter Harper Project

It’s official – June 7 is Walter Harper Day! Senator Click Bishop sponsored Senate Bill 144 to establish June 7 in recognition of Walter Harper (Koyukon Athabascan) who became the first person to stand on top of Denali on June 7, 1913.

I checked in with Walter Harper’s grandnephew, Mike Harper (Koyukon Athabascan), to learn about the significance of the Day. Mike’s family comes from Tanana and Rampart and his family moved to Fairbanks area after the 1918 pandemic. Mike was raised in Fairbanks by his grandmother, Louise Harper, widow of Sam Harper who passed in 1931. Sam was the brother of Walter’s brother. Continue reading “Walter Harper Day”

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 culture

New Book: Button Up! Fall in Alaska by Angela Gonzalez

Angela Gonzalez wrote BUTTON UP! Fall in Alaska

I wrote a book! Earlier this year, Best Beginnings, Alaska’s Early Childhood Investment, released Seasons of Alaska, four board books highlighting Alaska Native talent. Best Beginnings and editor Tricia Brown collaborated with Alaska Native writers and photographers contributed to four books focused on the seasons for ages 0-3 years old.

Authors include Joni Spiess of Nome/Anchorage, Yaari Toolie-Walker of Savoonga/Anchorage, Angela Y. Gonzalez of Huslia/Anchorage, and Carla Snow of Bethel. Featured photographers include Esther Pederson of Nome, Ian Merculieff of St. Paul Island/Anchorage, Carol Maillelle of Togiak/Anchorage, Taylor Booth of Nome, Greg Lincoln of Bethel, Jacqueline Cleveland of Quinhagak, and Cheryl Kriska of Fairbanks. Congratulations to the photographers and fellow authors!

Best Beginnings Seasons of Alaska Board Book Series

Continue reading “New Book: Button Up! Fall in Alaska by Angela Gonzalez”

Alaska Native culture

Reflections in Time of Pandemic

How are you doing? I find myself asking and answering that question in a deeper way now. Some of my old friends have even called out of the blue to check how things are going. It’s been a month of working at and staying home for me. I’ve had ups and downs, but have enjoyed connecting with folks virtually.

I see people reaching out to our Elders to check in on them and asking them about hard times. Some share how hard times are here – what their Elders shared with them about hard times coming. Continue reading “Reflections in Time of Pandemic”

Alaska life

Keeping Hope

I have been really thinking about what’s going on with the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our world. Like many people, I have been extra vigilant of washing my hands and taking other precautions, like social distancing. Follow the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Alaska Department of Health & Social Services for information and prevention.

Last week, there was a point in time when I found myself starting to panic with the news, event cancellations and travelers, etc. I thought about my Elder parents and family/friends, and how I want to keep them safe and healthy. Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together after grounding myself by talking to my family. I reflected on some of the stories people shared about how our ancestors survived the flu pandemic. It gave me the inner strength I needed after realizing that we can get through this. We all have a role in preventing and stopping. 

I asked my friends and family to share some messages and stories of hope. I’ve seen a few people posting stories about our ancestors surviving the early 1900 flu pandemic, reflections and advice. Enaa baasee’ to those who agreed to share.  Continue reading “Keeping Hope”