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Ahtna Kanas Fall 2020

President’s Message : Honor the Past by Being Counted for the Future

Michelle Anderson President, Ahtna, Inc.

I am pleased to announce the launch of our redesigned www.ahtna.com website. It was designed with our shareholders in mind and makes it easier to locate the information you need most. Our digital version of the Kanas has also been refreshed and you can view and subscribe to the quarterly e-newsletter at www.ahtna.com/kanas.

This year, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment when American women won the right to vote, the USA TODAY Network named 10 women from every state as “Women of the Century.” The late Katie John, beloved Ahtna Elder and tribal fishing rights advocate, was one of two women unanimously selected for Alaska. Katie fought tirelessly for the fishing rights of the Ahtna people and she won! The precedent set in the court case not only protects the rights of Ahtna people, it protects the fishing rights of all Alaska Natives. You can learn more about all the inspiring women of the century at www.usatoday.com/womenofthecentury.

Native Americans and Alaska Natives faced enormous challenges before obtaining U.S. citizenship and legal protection of their voting rights. It was not until 1965 that the passage of the Voting Rights Act eliminated literacy tests and other barriers to voting experienced by Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Please do not let the coronavirus deter you from voting in this year’s election. Check the voting options in your state as there are many alternatives available. Your vote is critical!

I hope everyone reading this message took the time to go online or respond by other means to the US Census. This count occurs every 10 years and sets the federal funding amounts that support many of our vital health, safety, infrastructure and social services. Not responding negatively impacts us as individuals as well as our tribes, community and state. For those that did respond, thank you!

I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the Copper River Native Association (CRNA) youth program this summer. Staff from Ahtna’s legal and shareholder enrichment teams also joined and gave their own perspectives which made for a well-rounded presentation. We talked about things that are important to concentrate on in terms of education and healthy choices. We also discussed the many career opportunities available at Ahtna, and encouraged participants to stay in touch with us and apply for the Walter Charley Memorial Scholarship for assistance with continued education.

In July we hosted a visit from Congressman Don Young at the Klutina Culture Camp. He was accompanied by his wife Ann, and state director Daniel George. We were able to share the experiences of the Ahtna people in this last year and how we’re working with our villages and regional nonprofits to manage pandemic preparations and response.

We continue to touch base on a bi-weekly basis with our tribes, tribal health organizations in the region, housing authority, and Chitina Native Corporation (CNC). We check in to see how everyone is doing with their pandemic preparations and response and work collaboratively to troubleshoot any issues that have come up. It is amazing to see how our region has pulled together to help our people. Village leaders moved quickly to protect their tribal members and think about what their needs might be as the state has hunkered down, reopened, and is now dealing with increasing positive virus test results statewide. We have been focused on preparations for the fall. Mentasta now has a village store which has been a creative and much-needed service.

Like many events this year, the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention and Elders and Youth Conference will be held virtually. That also means there will be no AFN Ahtna reception this year. We look forward to these events each fall. While we will miss connecting with you in person, the health and safety of our Elders and those most vulnerable to the coronavirus must come first.

This summer, the Ahtna Land Department and Shareholder Enrichment staff constructed two recreational/subsistence cabins for shareholder use. The Middle Lake Cabin is located approximately 7 miles west of Sourdough and 2 miles north of Ewan Lake and is accessible either by float plane or ATV. This area was historically used by the Gulkana people for trapping and hunting. The Klawasi River Cabin has been named in honor of Roy S. Ewan and is located 20 miles northeast of Copper Center. It is accessible by either small fixed-wing aircraft or ATV on a trail constructed last year by the Native Village of Kluti-Kaah.

The Middle Lake and Roy S. Ewan (Klawasi River) cabins are 12X16 and outfitted with sleeping bunks, propane cook stoves, lanterns, pots and pans and various tools. Users will need to provide their own sleeping bags, food and propane fuel. Shareholders interested in using the cabins can contact the Ahtna Land Department to make a reservation: (907) 822-3467 or ahtnalands@ahtna.net.

Click here to read about two of our Walter Charley Memorial Scholarship recipients shed light on what it’s like to work in the medical field during a pandemic. We appreciate them taking the time out of their extremely busy schedules to share their experiences with us. We have so much gratitude for all the workers out there who have made sacrifices to support their families and provide essential services.

Tsin’aen and please stay safe & healthy,

Michelle Anderson, President
Ahtna, Incorporated