A Word from the President

For those of you who turned out for either of our recent Potlatches, held Oct. 13 in Kenai, Alaska, and Oct. 20 in Anchorage, thank you! I truly value our time together and the traditions we share. When we eat traditional foods, enjoy Alaska Native entertainment and cultural events, and memorialize those who have passed with the Athabascan cloth ceremony, we instill cultural self-esteem, dignity and pride.

As a reminder, the Northwest Potlatch will be held Nov. 9 at the Chief Leschi School in Puyallup, Wash. I hope to see you there!

The 2019 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, held Oct. 17-19 in Fairbanks, Alaska, gave us another chance to come together to discuss strategic opportunities and challenges, listen to memorable keynote speeches, hear reports from political leaders and presentations from expert panels, and share stories about resilience, experiences, strengths, knowledge and hope for the future. This year’s theme, “Good Government—Alaska Driven,” was a call for securing a stable financial future for Alaska amid the state’s current fiscal challenges.

As we move into the holidays, there will be many more chances to come together. I hope to see you at CIRI’s annual Holiday Craft Bazaar, which will host Alaska Native artists selling an array of unique handmade items. This year’s event will be held Dec. 7 at the Fireweed Business Center in Anchorage.

Shopping locally is an easy way to give back to your community, and supporting local artists by visiting local art galleries or purchasing their work creates a relationship between culture and community. In the case of Alaska Native artists, their work often embodies a distinct geographic region or people.

What’s more, each dollar spent locally returns three times more money than one spent at a chain store, and almost 50 times more than buying from an online mega-retailer.

Giving back is such an important part of the holidays. When we think of “giving back,” we often think of volunteering or donating money to the organizations or causes we care about. While time and money are certainly important, there are many ways to spread holiday cheer that involve little to no personal time or financial output:

  • Perform random acts of kindness. Smiling, opening a door for someone, giving genuine compliments to others and picking up trash when you see it are easy ways to make the world a better place!
  • Donate clothing, books and household items to a charitable organization.
  • Download charity apps, such as Charity Miles, Donate a Photo or Freerice.

If you or someone you know is in need of help during the holidays or at any other time of the year, 2-1-1 is a good place to start. A program of United Way, 2-1-1 is a one-stop resource for finding help in communities across the U.S. Simply dial 2-1-1 or visit 211.org to be connected to a specialist who will work with you to understand your needs and connect you to programs and services that can help.

Warm regards,

Sophie Minich