Alaska Native culture


Janessa, Angela and Ermelina in 2006 and 2020. Photos by Gonzalez family and Samantha Meza Photography

As the seasons change, I find myself reflecting, purging and thinking of the future. In 2012, I shared some things I’m grateful for. The list popped up on my memories. It’s amazing how things change over time yet stay the same. I’m still grateful for these things but have a new appreciation for ways I’m grateful for them.

Things that I am grateful for (written by Angela Łot’oydaatlno Gonzalez)

I’m grateful for family and friends who love me and to be able to laugh and cry with them.
I’m grateful for experiences that help me to be a better person.
I’m grateful for opportunities presented and being able to pursue dreams.
I’m grateful for life.
I’m grateful for the ability to provide for my kids and to make a home for them with my husband.
I’m grateful for my Ancestors.
I’m grateful to be able to help others.
I’m grateful to live in Alaska and to be able to enjoy the great outdoors.
I’m grateful for clean air, water, food and earth.
I’m grateful for the little shared moments with my kids that make me smile and surprises.
I’m grateful for challenges and mistakes I’ve made even though they can be overwhelming.
I’m grateful to know what pain feels like. I’m a better person for having lived through tough times, and maybe can help someone else in the future.
I’m grateful for the ability to smile and to make others smile.
I’m grateful to have listened to stories from Elders.
I’m grateful to be able to so easily connect with people from all over.
I’m grateful for my imperfections.
I’m grateful for thoughtful and honest people.
I’m grateful for you.
I’m grateful to be able to learn Athabascan cultures and ways of living that will help me and my family well into the future.
I’m grateful to capture moments in time in many different ways.

Over the past year, there’s a lot of things I’ve missed, like seeing family and sharing tradition foods with family and in community. There is so much more to be grateful for, including those who have shared their stories on the Athabascan Woman blog. Enaa baasee’!

I’ll leave you with this video on missing Native foods. I enjoy following #NativeTikTok, and how we use humor to share stories.


I sure miss foods from home. What foods do you miss the most from gatherings? #potlatch #nativefood #nativehumor

♬ original sound – Tati

Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Amaya Mishka – Athabascan Author

I met Amaya Mishka (Athabascan) on Facebook recently. Amaya is Athabascan is from McGrath, and grew up in Haines and Anchorage. She now lives in California. She shared the release of her debut science fiction/fantasy novel, Ascension Warriors Mission 626. It is always exciting to hear about new Alaska Native authors. 

Amaya’s family is from McGrath. Her grandmother is Avis Dunkin, and her mother was Sophie Vanderpool. Amaya has been writing passionately since the age of 15, but has stayed covertly in the shadows writing marketing content, short stories, blogs and poetry. 

Amaya says, “I have written a book with an Athabascan character. The book is best described as a call to raise consciousness and return to traditional values of treating all living creatures including Mother Earth with respect through literary art told through science fiction/fantasy.” 

The model featured on the cover is actress from Canada, Olivia Kate Iatridis (Inuit). Amaya’s goal is to write 10 books in the series, and she plans to feature a new Indigenous role model on each cover. 

“Always make sure that if your heart desires something that you make time to do it.” – Amaya Mishka (Athabascan)

I got a chance to talk with Amaya recently. Find out more about what inspired her, advice to aspiring authors, how she has tied in Athabascan values in her book, and plans for a potential script. 

Find out more about Amaya Mishka at: Find her book on Amazon at: Amaya is also a licensed hypnotherapist and owner of Amanda Kay Hypnotherapy.

Congratulations, Amaya, on your new book!

Family of Amaya Mishka
Alaska life

Berry Picking and Preserving

I recently was blessed to spend a day berry picking with my daughter and friend near Wasilla, Alaska, and documented the adventure. It’s a Life in A Day YouTube documentary project submission. It was a fun day of picking and putting it away for the winter. I’m grateful for time on the land and for the rich resources it provides.

Check out some true berry picking and harvesting pros on the Alaska berry pickers page on Facebook. They share and have been sharing some awesome photos, berry identification and more.

Enjoy harvesting during this berry picking season!


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”