Athabascan in the Spotlight

Athabascan in the Spotlight – Elaine Alexie – Teetł’it Gwich’in

Elaine Alexie. Courtesy photo

This summer, the Athabascan Woman Blog is featuring an Athabascan in the Spotlight. Elaine Alexie is Teetł’it Gwich’in from Alberta, Canada. I have been following her for a few years, and am excited to feature her on the Athabascan Woman Blog. She and I share a love of beading. We both learned our sewing and beading skills from our mothers. Her mother is her biggest supporter and continues to be an inspiration.

Here’s my interview with Elaine:

Can you tell me about yourself?

My name is Elaine Alexie and I am Teetł’it (Tee-tlit) Gwich’in. I currently reside on Treaty 6 and Metis homelands in Alberta, Canada with my loving partner Adam. My home community is Teetł’it Zheh or Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. Teetł’it Gwich’in is loosely translated as, ‘the people of the headwaters’ or ‘above the water’ people. Our ancestral territory extends from what is now described as the Peel River Watershed in the central area of the Yukon Territory to the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories in Northern Canada.

I was born in the NWT and raised in Teetł’it Zheh within my large and extended Teetl’it Gwich’in maternal families of both Vittrekwa (Don’t Cry/Esau) and Alexie (Martin/Sha un Nakhya). Like many other families, I have many aunties, uncles and cousins all around. I come from a large family of creators and makers.  In some ways, I like to consider myself more of a Yukoner as I spent a majority of my childhood out on the land with my family at our winter/spring camp at Tr’atr’aataii Njik, which is approximately 80 miles upstream on Teetł’it Gwinjik, the Peel River, on the Yukon side. 

My great grandmothers and their daughters had many skills including hide tanning, sewing, medicine knowledge, birch bark basket-making, dog team handling and working with fish and meat, among other things. I am a descendent of strong people and I am proud of that. – Elaine Alexie (Teetł’it Gwich’in)

Elaine Alexie. Courtesy photo

I left home in my mid-teens to go to high school in other regions of the NWT. At the time, this was the only option. After school I had the opportunity to work on the protection of the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I spent lots of time touring with other Gwich’in to the Lower 48 and lobbying the US Congress to protect the calving grounds. I also worked in other areas of land protection and Indigenous rights in Canada, including the protection of the Peel Watershed and Dene resistance to the revived Mackenzie Pipeline proposal. These experiences taught me a lot about community organizing and communication.

I have always had a fondness and love for traveling in my peoples lands and I did it a lot growing up at my family’s seasonal camps. Later on, I rafted and canoed rivers during the summer seasons. A big part my who I am is connected to water. This interest led me to get my certifications and training for being a raft tour guide.

I worked in film and TV production as a producer for several years but was laid off during the recession in 2008. Fortunately, that same summer I was accepted to the University of Victoria in British Columbia and my river rafting dreams slowly would diminish from there.

To get my degree done faster, I did summer school sessions, so I wasn’t able to continue my love for being on the water or to work in that area. My university experience became another door that opened many other doors, and I trained in the area of political science/Indigenous studies. I enjoyed it so much I continued on for my master’s degree in Political Science. My degree was thesis-based, so I worked with my elders and led a community-based research project on my people’s use of traditional governance. This project grounded land-based practices and explores how it informs our indigeneity that is essential to our self-determination. I find research amazing and I really enjoy it, when done right and respectfully. I enjoy working with community knowledge holders and building projects with them. I currently work at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Native Studies in northern research engagement and part of my job is to build research partnerships and relationships with communities across Northern Canada.

Can you tell me about any recent projects you’re working on or maybe one you finished? 

Elaine Alexie beading a Gwich’in style baby belt. Courtesy photo

I have one major project on the go right now: a Gwich’in style beaded baby belt. I am using mostly seed beads on stroud and velvet. I have acquired some vintage pony beads to incorporate for the tassels, so I am excited about that. I have been researching old styles of Gwich’in baby belts by visiting museum collections and looking at resources online. This past winter, I visited the Royal Alberta Museum, Bata Shoe Museum and Royal Ontario Museum to see Gwich’in pieces in their collections. I’ve seen a very old baby belt dated to at least late 19th century and a Hudson’s Bay flour sac was used as a liner. Old! This demonstrates that certain materials were not within reach and people used everything they could to make things with whatever they had available. That’s pretty special.

I have a deep appreciation of the work my Gwich’in ancestors have done with beads, the many forms of hand stitch, and the use of certain fabrics. – Elaine Alexie (Teetł’it Gwich’in)

Beaded purse top by Elaine Alexie. Courtesy photo

I really admire the old-style beading and the use of velvet. I appreciate the use of certain bead colours no longer in production and the formation and use of floral motifs. It is also not very easy to bead on velvet, so it takes some skill. Each beaded flower motif tells a story and that is something special to pay attention to. This reflects our peoples surroundings or in some way, interpretations of the beauty of our cultural landscape, as our ancestors have seen it.

Beaded flower for a purse by Elaine Alexie. Courtesy photo

I am fascinated by all this and want to continue the art of my peoples beadwork and continue the use of the old style in a variety of ways. One project that relates to this topic is a bag I completed with the help of my sister, Shirley, and mom, Dorothy. I sewed it together in a two week period, alongside tanning caribou and moose hides with my mom, and it was deeply gratifying. As exhausted as I was physically at the end of our days working on hides, I managed to sew and bead in the evenings.

Surprisingly, I found doing these different tasks went hand in hand. What influenced my desire to do this bag was an old school bag my mom owns that is about 70 years old. This bag was fully beaded in the traditional way – on blue velvet and old Gwich’in beading floral motif pattern. It is simply beautiful, and I’ve admired it all my life. The bag was considered my mom’s bible bag to store her bible and hymn books, and she would occasionally take it with her on her weekly visit to church.

Beaded purse by Elaine Alexie. Courtesy photo

For the bag I worked on, I freestyled the beading based on learning about certain floral patterns and cut out a pattern to bring it together. My sister is a master at the sewing machine, so she showed me the best way to sew it together. Our mom watched and instructed us on certain things to pay attention to. It was a great thing to do with several family members. I am super proud of it because it was made from scratch and drawn from a vision I had. That is, a vision that was inspiration based on Gwich’in items that I’ve researched through books and viewed in person.

There are so many other skills I want to develop in my lifetime, like working with quills and natural dyes, harvesting and using birch bark, and learning how to make sinew and babiche. The list is endless. – Elaine Alexie (Teetł’it Gwich’in)

Do you have any web or social media links you would like me to share? 

Elaine Alexie’s new business and collective is called, Shinli’ Niintaih, which means my strong hands.

Over the years and to offset my loneliness for my land, home, family and culture, I took up beading and making things to keep myself busy. This has been on and off over the years, but I really picked it up in university. I continue to work on projects while working full time and have started a small business on the side, Shinli’ Niintaih: my strong hands, a name that my mom and I came up with.  I gravitate to this concept because of my life-long love of learning new skills. I love that. My work and many other things that I am invested in begins with the understanding around the concept of Shinli’ Niintaih.

Shinli’ Niintaih in my people’s language means “strong hands” or “my hands are getting strong.” It means that to be a strong person starts with your hands, so by making things drawn from our homelands, we get stronger. My hands always get stronger by working with them. – Elaine Alexie (Teetł’it Gwich’in)

I have started a Facebook and Instagram page for Shinli’ Niintaih, so people can follow my research and journey in making things with my hands. You can follow @ShinliNiintaih. From time to time, I will sell items I make, so if people want to purchase they can. An incentive that really got me to begin Shinli’ Niintaih was what started as making gifts to family and friends over the years became larger as more people came to me for custom pieces. A portion of my jewelry making sales will go toward youth cultural resurgence projects in my home community. My website is

Shinli’ Niintaih is also a community collective. To support other Teetł’it Gwich’in artists, I help them by selling their work online. All of the proceeds from their sales goes to them. I believe strongly creating opportunities for people to generate and keep the art forms alive is incredibly vital for knowledge transmission, and the relationships that result, in Indigenous communities. A key component of material culture creation is not just in the tangible process but the making of kinship along the way.

My philosophy and approach to social media is that I am always happy to share knowledge with other Indigenous community members and youth. I love to connect with other artists in an open, uplifting and supportive way, and to share my love for making things.

Do you have anything else to add?

About five years ago, Ned Blackhawk gifted me the famous book, ‘Northern Athapaskan Art’ by Kate C. Duncan. I was floored, because the book is now out of print and I felt I hit the jackpot. I have always had an interest in making things and having cultural influences all around me growing up was something I was always used to. This book help to start my interests in looking at my peoples art forms more closely and I have been able to start my journey in researching the many forms of Athapaskan material culture and artistic practice. I have so much gratitude to the researchers who have recorded the oral knowledge of the elders in the communities on the knowledge they carry. There is so much more work to do. I hope to do my PhD in the next few years on this very topic within my peoples practices to help preserve knowledge and the practice of Teetł’it Gwich’in art forms.

Elaine Alexie’s beading space. I love seeing other people’s beading spaces! Courtesy photo

Enaa baasee’ to Elaine Alexie for sharing on the Athabascan Woman Blog! It was great to learn a little bit about her background, process and inspiration for her work. I know it takes a lot of time, trial and error and dedication to learn about beading. I love seeing her style and uses of colors and materials.

Do you have someone you admire, like a culture bearer, artist, storytellers, activist, role model, community doer, language warrior, leader, hunter, gatherer, parent, or grandparents? Find out more about how to submit a nomination here:

Athabascan in the Spotlight
Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Athabascan in the Spotlight – Glenda McKay

This summer, the Athabascan Woman Blog is featuring an Athabascan in the Spotlight each week. Thank you to Brenda Mahan (Koyukon Athabascan) for nominating Glenda McKay!

Glenda McKay is Ingalik-Athabascan. Her mother, Emily, was born in Flat, Alaska and grandmother, Eliza Tickeny, was born in Anvik, Alaska. Glenda is an artist known for creating miniature dolls using traditional materials. She also creates masks, charm baskets and knife sheaths. Glenda also does beadwork, like making octopus bags. She uses moose skin, walrus ivory, fossilized bone, seed beads, seal skin, whale baleen, sea otter fur and deer hide. One item can take several months, if not up to a year to create.

Glenda has won many awards for her artwork. She travels to many of the Native markets in the Lower 48, such as the Santa Fe Indian Market and the American Indian Arts Market place at the Autry Museum. She has been featured online and in magazines. Glenda received the 2017 Jackie Autry Purchase Award winner for her Yesterdays Warrior bag by the Autry Museum of the American West.

Glenda received the 2017 Jackie Autry Purchase Award winner for her Yesterdays Warrior bag by the Autry Museum of the American West. Photo by Autry Museum of the American West
Glenda received the 2017 Jackie Autry Purchase Award winner for her Yesterdays Warrior bag by the Autry Museum of the American West. Photo by Autry Museum of the American West

The Native American Artists, Musicians and Writers group featured her artwork on their Facebook page. View the page to see her impressive art work collection.

Glenda has been a mentor for Brenda Mahan for about three years now. Brenda says, “She is always willing to share tips of the trade. Her knowledge on Athabascan crafts is invaluable and she is willing to pass down her knowledge and this is why I am nominating her for the Athabascan in the Spotlight.”

Enaa baasee’ to Brenda for submitting Glenda McKay to be an Athabascan in the Spotlight! Do you have someone you admire, like a culture bearer, artist, storytellers, activist, role model, community doer, language warrior, leader, hunter, gatherer, parent, or grandparents? Find out more about how to submit a nomination here:

Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Athabascan in the Spotlight Features

Athabascan in the Spotlight

Throughout the years, I have featured Athabascan people in my blog through interviews and by sharing our stories. Why? I want to raise people up, promote wellness and counter stereotypes. Let’s celebrate those we admire — our culture bearers, artists, storytellers, activists, role models, community doers, language warriors, leaders, hunters, gatherers, parents, and grandparents! Now, I would like to ask for your help.

To submit a nomination, please email me the following:

  • Your Name
  • Name of nominee (including Native name if applicable)
  • Cultural affiliation (like, Koyukon, Gwich’in, etc.)
  • Background on nominee (where they or their family is from, who their family is, what they do, etc.)
  • Reason this person should be recognized
  • Contact info for nominee (phone, email or social media)
  • Web and/or social media link
  • 1-3 photos (or links from public social media).

Email or message me on Facebook.

Let’s lift up and celebrate those we admire in the Athabascan community. Please contact me with any questions. Enaa baasee’!

Alaska Native/Indigenous People, Athabascan in the Spotlight

Shirley Sam – Author of Deadly Summers in Alaskan

Shirley Sam in a snowshoe race in Allakaket. Courtesy photo Shirley Sam in a snowshoe race in Allakaket. Courtesy photo

Shirley Sam is one of Alaska’s most recent authors. She wrote Deadly Summers in Alaska. The paperback and Kindle edition are available for purchase at Read the description below for more information about the book.

Shirley is Koyukon Athabascan and grew up in interior Alaska. Her father is the late Ernie Esmailka Sr. and her mother is Ethel Esmailka who lives in Koyukuk. Shirley grew up in Koyukuk and graduated high school as a boarding student in Tanana. She earned college credits from the University of Alaska Fairbanks via distance learning. Shirley is working toward a certificate in Tribal Management. She and her husband Darrell have been together for 20 years, and were married for the past 13 years. They have six children and four grandchildren. Shirley and Darrell adopted one of their grandchildren. Shirley and Darrel live a very active lifestyle in Huslia. They enter many snowshoe races and footraces in the interior, and often are the top placers. Shirley is currently the Transportation Planner for the Huslia Tribal Council.

Shirley Sam with her newly written book, Deadly Summers in Alaska. Courtesy photo Shirley Sam with her newly written book, Deadly Summers in Alaska. Courtesy photo

Shirley began writing Deadly Summers in Alaska in late 2011, and completed this April. It was published in June 2013. I loved the way she weaved a lot of local knowledge and traditions into the book. I found myself highlighting those areas on my Kindle edition.

“I used the local knowledge as I was taught in Koyukuk. I tried not to be specific about what we do, just that we do it. I didn’t want to offend anyone by telling people how we do things specifically.” – Shirley Sam

The book delves into the inner workings of law enforcement and crime. Shirley gained insight into the language of law enforcement and crime through reading books, watching television and by listening to people. She researched information on missing persons, procedures, the national missing persons clearinghouse, law enforcement and rosehips. Shirley relied on Trooper Jeannine Santora in Galena for the general information about Alaska State Troopers. Shirley also relied on Darrell to give her advice on motors and firefighting information.

Shirley grew up hearing about how search and rescue operations and firefighting happens. She says, “I did have a lot of déjà vu over the years that made me want to put in the experiences with dreams and how some elders just know things.”

Shirley has dreamed of writing a book since she first started reading. At first, she wanted to write a self-help book based on her childhood abuse. However, she didn’t want to anyone to feel put on the spot or pointed out. Shirley says, “So then I started thinking about all the silly stuff that happens day to day and how much I love mystery and thriller books so that’s where it came from.” Shirley is an avid reader. Some of her favorite authors include Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Jackson and Stephen King.

I personally enjoyed the book. I did notice that it does need some minor editing. However, that didn’t turn me off because it was very suspenseful, interesting, and a page turner. I was impressed with the local knowledge peppered throughout the book. For now, Shirley doesn’t plan on having a second edition printed.

Shirley’s basic advice to people who want to write a book:

  • Just write
  • Don’t stop
  • Write your ideas down
  • Keep all your notes
Shirley loves spending time with her grandchildren. Here she is with Cherish, Blake, and Isaiah. Courtesy photo Shirley loves spending time with her grandchildren. Here she is with Cherish, Blake, and Isaiah. Courtesy photo

Shirley dedicated her book to Darrell, her children (Alexandria, Kate, Tyson, Patricia, Starlene and D2), and her grandchildren (Isaiah, Cherish, Blake and Riley). She thanks them for encouraging her and believing in her as she was writing the book.

Have you read the book yet? If so, please leave a review for it on the Amazon site. What was your favorite part of the book? Leave a comment below.

I’m proud of Shirley and the fact that she wrote and had a book published and she lives in a little town in interior Alaska! I admire her will and tenacity for checking something off her bucket list. It is encouraging to see an Alaska Native author be published. The book ends on a cliffhanger and the fans will be happy to know that Shirley does plan on doing a follow-up to the book. It may be set in different parts of Alaska. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this author!

About Deadly Summers in Alaska by S. A. E. Sam via
A serial killer is on the loose in Alaska, killing women who all look alike. Each woman is found abandoned in the uninhabited wilderness, and the only commonality among them is that they all physically resemble Denise “Birdie” Beardtom, an Alaska State Trooper. It would appear that someone wants Birdie dead, and it could be her abusive ex-husband. Her partner, Miles, is concerned for Birdie’s safety. He enlists local friends Myrna Elam and John Lebowan to keep an eye on her. But Myrna has problems of her own, as she faces nightly dreams that seem strangely similar to the recent murder spree. Is it safe for Myrna to stay near Birdie, or could Myrna need protection as well? As more bodies pile up, the crew calls for backup from the Fairbanks State Troopers Office. Due to the lack of evidence, however, they too are perplexed by the case. Running out of options, Birdie realizes she may be the only key to catching a killer-even if she has to act as bait. Can Birdie stop a madman before he kills again, or will she become his next and final victim?

Update: Read the next book in the series: Deadly Summers in Alaska II: Birdie by Shirley Sam

Athabascan in the Spotlight

Shyanne Beatty – Raven Whirlwind

Shyanne Beatty. Photo courtesy of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.
Shyanne Beatty. Photo courtesy of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation

Shyanne Beatty is Hän Gwich’in Athabascan who grew up in Eagle, Alaska. Her Dena’ina Athabascan friend, Steve Hobson of Nondalton, gave her the name of Chulyin Ch’ivaya. It means Raven Whirlwind. She laughs and says he gave her the name because she likes shiny things, is mischief like a raven and she comes in and out of a room like a whirlwind.

I worked with Shyanne at Koahnic Broadcast Corporation for a number of years and she certainly has a larger than life personality. She is currently the Network Manager for NV1 (Native Voice One) which is a national distribution of Native American radio programs. Shyanne believes her subsistence lifestyle growing up in the village made her a well-rounded person and made her appreciate the small things in life, like running water, electricity and not having to get up in the middle of night to put wood in the fire.

Shyanne Beatty - ANAF artist by Angela Gonzalez 1-04-13
Shyanne Beatty in front of her gel acrylic art piece at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation. It is entitled “Weneydey” – Han Gwich’in Athabascan for “I Remember Her”. It is in memory of Helen Simeonoff, and you can see Helen’s work portrayed in Shyanne’s piece. Photo by Angela Gonzalez

I am always struck by her talents, including being an on-air personality, producer, emcee, singer, cultural ambassador, leader and an artist. I often wonder how she manages to be all of those things. Shyanne lives her passions of music, culture, language and tradition. Her talents, mixed with her passions, take many different forms and she is constantly evolving.

I’ve always admired Shyanne’s voice and how she uses it. If you know or have ever met Shyanne, she has a very vivacious and outgoing personality, which was perfect for radio. Many KNBA and Native radio station listeners across the US have come to know Shyanne when she was the host and producer of Earthsongs, which was the first national radio show to be broadcast out of Alaska. It is a one hour program that features contemporary Indigenous music with artist interviews.

Shyanne’s biggest challenge when producing Earthsongs was being based in Alaska. It was difficult to make connections with Indigenous musicians in the Lower 48. Being isolated in Alaska made it difficult to keep up with musicians and to market the show. There were very few national Indigenous artists who were coming to Alaska on a regular basis, but she managed to make it work through her networking skills and making the most of every opportunity she had to network at industry events. Shyanne made friends with other producers from other National Federation of Community Broadcasters stations. She relied on advice from them, plus her mentors, including Lori Townsend of the Alaska Public Media and Dixie Hutchinson who is the former News Director of KNBA. She would learn how to make her show better by asking what listeners liked about Earthsongs and what they’d like to see in the future.

Shyanne has also been heavily involved in the Alaska Native Heritage Month Committee, and currently serves as the President of the ANHM Board. She helped to start the Alaska Native Visionary Awards in hopes of recognizing people who perpetuate their culture and traditions in new and innovative ways. Shyanne says that she wanted to show young adults that instead of learning about their culture, traditions and language in the commonly known traditional methods, which sometimes is not appealing to the younger generation, they could use new methods like video, audio, and other digital formats to perpetuate their Alaska Native culture, traditions and language. The Alaska Native Visionary Awards aims to recognize and honor Alaskan Natives who are perpetuating and preserving culture through artistic and visionary ventures such as film, photography, music, visual and literary art, performance art and so much more.

Shyanne as a young child. Courtesy photo
Shyanne as a young child. Courtesy photo

At a conference one year, Shyanne was asking American Indian students who were attending a Johnson O’Malley conference if they would ever pursue a career in media and was shocked to hear that they would not. She asked why, and one young lady said, “Because I don’t’ see anyone on TV who looks like me or hear anyone on the radio who sounds like me.” That was a huge blow for Shyanne and that incident pushed her to do the work she has done throughout her career. According to Shyanne, American Indian and Alaska Native media professionals make up less than 1% of all of the media professionals in the US. She encourages and mentors others to get involved in the media and spread their Indigenous voices across not only the country but the world.

Although Shyanne pushes young people toward media careers, she says they have opportunities right at their fingertips, including:

  • Using your iPad or iPod to do digital storytelling
  • Volunteering at your local radio station
  • Blogging
  • Music
  • Social media tools

People can start by simply telling their own stories in the many different ways mentioned above. Shyanne says, “Be yourself and talk about things that you are interested in.” Shyanne always infuses culture in radio in whatever she does. Shyanne tells people they can tell stories about their culture, traditions and language without a radio or TV station. Using social media tools these days, you have your own form of broadcasting right at your fingertips.

When speaking about confidence, Shyanne says that it is all a process. Your confidence grows as your education grows. You learn different things through the process and that’s how you build your confidence and how you become more focused. When you first start out it can all seem overwhelming. You might not know where you want to go but as you start learning you can see a more clearly defined path that you want to take. Shyanne’s advice is to find things you love and it will help you focus more on the things your passionate about.

Shyanne says Native people who live and share their own experiences can make a bigger impact. She says that is one of the reasons why Koahnic Broadcast Corporation started in the first place. Media often portrayed Alaska Native people in a very negative way. It was very disheartening that people only saw these negative stereotypes and it made it very difficult for Alaska Natives to have pride in themselves. Koahnic wanted to change that by celebrating and showcasing the positive and amazing things that were happening in various Alaska Native communities, especially the biggest village – Anchorage.

“That’s why we have our own Native voice. Who is going to tell the stories that impact us better than us? Nobody can tell our stories like we can.” – Shyanne Beatty

Shyanne’s professional and volunteer work has to align with her personal passions. According to Shyanne, the Alaska Native Heritage Month (ANHM) would like to be a clearing house to help anyone be able to educate, promote, and perpetuate their cultures, traditions and language. She also volunteers for the Athabascan Cultural Advisory Committee and Salmonstock.

Music, culture, language and tradition – that’s my passion, my life, what’s important to me. If money was important to me, I wouldn’t volunteer for anything. That’s not my focus.” – Shyanne Beatty

Shyanne sees many people who are struggling with their identity partially because their parents were discouraged to practice their culture, language and traditions when they were growing up. Shyanne has made it her personal mission to carry on her own culture but also to encourage others to do the same.

In the past year, Shyanne has focused more on being healthy and fit. In her younger years, she wasn’t educated on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Since she got married, health became more important to her. She has lost 40 pounds since beginning and has learned that a healthy mind, body and spirit radiates to your passions. She says, “You are more powerful to attain the goals you are pursuing.” Some people don’t recognize her and some tell her, “Marriage looks good on you.”

Shyanne married Aaron Leggett in 2011 in Eagle, Alaska. Courtesy photo
Shyanne married Aaron Leggett in 2011 in Eagle, Alaska. Courtesy photo

Shyanne is happily married to Aaron Leggett who is Dena’ina Athabascan. According to Shyanne, his passions align with her own. Aaron’s passion for researching culture and language complements and enhances her endeavors in many ways. Shyanne recently expressed an interest in learning more about Athabascan porcupine quill work and Aaron got her a book on different aspects of quill work. Shyanne wants to learn more about her Hän Gwich’in Athabascan language but to her it seemed so overwhelming. She didn’t know where or how to start and Aaron helped her see that she can take small steps in learning her language.  Aaron encouraged her to transfer existing audio tape in Hän Gwich’in from analog to digital format. He broke it down into a digestible step that she could take now, that will help her to reach her goal.

Shyanne has already made a stamp in the world through her pursuit of carrying on traditions, language and culture. I am looking forward for the future in what she will be able to accomplish next. It takes people like her to preserve our cultures and other people can do the same.

Shyanne Beatty is the Network Manager for NV1 (Native Voice One) which distributes Native radio programming to radio stations throughout North America. Listeners in Southcentral Alaska also knew Shyanne as a popular local on-air personality for KNBA 90.3. Based in Anchorage, she maintains ties to her home village while coordinating urban events such as the Alaska Native Visionary Awards and the many events throughout Alaska Native Heritage Month.

Shyanne first came to Koahnic Broadcast Corporation when she won a coveted spot as a Koahnic Media Fellow in 1999, and learned the basics of news gathering and audio production. After completing the one-year Fellowship, Shyanne went on to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Audio Production from the Art Institute of Seattle.

Shyanne’s work for Koahnic has included directing the 2004 Native Media Empowerment Project. For this, she designed and constructed media training sessions for Alaska Native participants in rural locations including Barrow, Bethel, Kotzebue, St. Paul Island, Unalaska and Sitka. Shyanne also co-produced the award-winning oral history/Native language programs “Native Word of the Day” and “Stories of Our People” and the award-winning 2008 radio documentary “Coming Home: The Return of the Alutiiq Masks.”