A Word from Our President

Thank you to all those who turned out, either in person or via webcast, for our 2023 Annual Meeting, held Saturday, June 3 in Anchorage. Seeing you, our Shareholders and Descendants, at our first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019 provided a fantastic kick-off to the summer—coming together as members of our CIRI family, hearing updates about your families and your lives, and celebrating Alaska Native culture and heritage.

With more than 100 inches of cumulative snowfall this winter and record-cold temperatures in April, the Cook Inlet region experienced a later-than-average spring. Now that summer has finally arrived, we are busy soaking up every moment! Our region provides us with an abundance of wild resources—birds and mammals, fish and plants—to not only nourish ourselves, but to continue our rich and diverse cultural traditions.

I spent my childhood in Kodiak and Seward, Alaska, with a three-year stint in my father’s home state of Wyoming. I remember gardening with my grandfather and sampling produce “straight off the vine” (my grandfather carried a saltshaker in the chest pocket of his overalls for just such a purpose). When we moved to Seward, we fished for salmon and halibut, and a dear family friend taught us to smoke and store fish. I grew up in primarily urban environments, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was invited to fish camp and given the opportunity to fish a tribal net.

Regardless of where we live, subsistence practices are closely bound to the lifestyle of Native people and are key to maintaining and preserving our cultures. Knowledge about harvest techniques and preparation methods, the wise use of resources, and the concepts of gratitude and sharing are passed down from Elders to young people through participation in subsistence activities, keeping alive these traditions and values.

This spring, Cook Inlet region leaders came together to identify economic, social and cultural priorities for our region. Along with protecting self-determination and revitalizing Alaska Native culture and identity, subsistence was identified as one of top three region-wide priorities. I am excited to work with other Cook Inlet leaders as we come in closer alignment on our shared goals and values around subsistence and conservation.

It was announced in April that I will step down from my current position at the end of this year. As such, this was my last Annual Meeting as your president and CEO. I am excited to spend more time with my family, traveling, and engaging in community-service and volunteer work. My passion for CIRI, its mission, and my fellow Shareholders and Descendants will not change. I will always be a proud Shareholder and member of the CIRI family.

Please mark your calendar for CIRI’s next in-person gatherings, our Friendship Potlatches! This year’s potlaches will be held Saturday, Oct. 14, in Kenai, Alaska; Sunday, Oct. 22, in Anchorage; and Saturday, Nov. 4, in Puyallup, Wash. I hope to see you there!

Warm regards,

Sophie Minch

CIRI President and CEO