A Message from CIRI Board Assistant Secretary Katrina (Dolchok) Jacuk
My name is Katrina (Dolchok) Jacuk. I am Aleut and Athabascan, an original CIRI shareholder and an enrolled citizen of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. It has been my privilege to serve on the CIRI Board of Directors since 2009.
I grew up in Oklahoma and Alaska and graduated from Tok High School. I currently reside in Oklahoma.
Growing up, I was fortunate to be exposed to Native culture, both in Alaska and among the Native American tribes of the Lower 48. However, even though I had an appreciation of our culture, I didn’t truly understand what it means to be an Alaska Native person until I went to law school in my late 30s. It was there that I learned about our legal history as the Indigenous people of the United States and discovered an entire body of law surrounding federal policy issues affecting Alaska Native and American Indian people, such as what an means to be an enrollee of an Alaska Native regional corporation and a federally recognized Tribe.
Because many of my parents’ generation were forced to relinquish their Native language, culture and identity, their children have struggled to understand who we are as Alaska Native people. But when I look at the next generation, I get very excited about our future.
My three children, who are now all in their 20s, and their contemporaries are very purposeful in their approach to understanding their identity and responsibility as Alaska Native people. They are interested in language revitalization; they are learning about their culture and practicing it, while looking for opportunities to give back. The next generation is not only intelligent, but bold and fearless. I can’t wait to see the ways they are going to lead us and move us ahead as Alaska Native people.
For the original enrollees of CIRI, this is not a time to rest. Rather, we must ensure we do our part to instill traditional values and serve as an example for the next generation, while also giving them the space they need to rise up and become leaders.
Almost 50 years after passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, there are so many ways for shareholders and descendants to learn about their Corporation. They can go online to the CIRI website, read the Raven’s Circle newsletter, subscribe to CIRI’s social media outlets and apply to become a member of the Shareholder Participation Committees. And a variety of youth programs—such as youth voting, an annual art contest, educational incentives and other activities—allow young shareholders and descendants to be involved with their company from an early age.
One of the priorities of the CIRI Board is to improve the way we engage the next generation of shareholders and ensure CIRI is as relevant in their lives as it is in ours. If you have suggestions as to how we might best engage and support our young people, I invite you to email firstname.lastname@example.org.