Meet Braden Kinnebrew (Tsimshian), a CIRI Shareholder who parlayed a CIRI summer internship into a full-time job and a successful career in the construction industry.
“I was in the inaugural summer intern class at CIRI (in 2015), interning for CIRI subsidiary North Wind Group,” Braden recalled. “The internship helped me hone my interpersonal skills because it required me to deal a lot with people. That was probably the biggest thing that helped me—I needed the internship to help me get to where I am now.”
After the internship ended, Braden was invited to stay on at North Wind Group as a project coordinator while he finished his bachelor’s degree.
Braden currently works as a project manager at ASRC Earthworks, a subsidiary of Alaska Native regional corporation Arctic Slope Regional Corp., overseeing civil-works projects at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage. His job entails managing projects related to heavy civil construction, materials extraction/processing and paving, as well as helping estimate and oversee jobs outside JBER.
Braden is connected to CIRI through his mother, Kim Kinnebrew, and grandfather, Everett Hudson, whose family hails from Metlakatla Indian Community in Southeast Alaska. Metlakatla is the only federal Indian reserve in Alaska and not a part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
When he was in his late 20s, Braden’s mother gifted him a single CIRI share. “She wanted to help me feel more connected with CIRI, a little more involved,” he explained. “I have a younger brother, and he’s also a Shareholder. Being a Shareholder makes a difference—you feel part of something bigger than yourself. Running for the CIRI Board of Directors is definitely a goal for me down the road, and that single CIRI share makes it possible.”
Braden lived in Kenai, Alaska, as a young child but grew up primarily in Anchorage. He didn’t visit Metlakatla until after his grandfather passed away. “My grandmother was white and from Kansas, and my grandfather’s interracial marriage was frowned upon by many members in the community,” he said. His grandfather nonetheless passed down Alaska Native culture to his grandson, teaching him to hunt, fish and engage in other subsistence activities. “He ran a halibut charter, so I’d go down in the summers (to Homer, Alaska) and deckhand for him,” Braden said. “He showed me the traditional halibut hooks made of wood and animal hide his parents and grandparents had used. That was his way of sharing culture.”
Braden began playing hockey when he was only 3 or 4 (“The first ‘Mighty Ducks’ movie had recently come out, so that piqued my interest,” he laughed) and played the sport through his first two years of college at Castleton State University in Vermont. He had recently transferred to the University of Alaska Anchorage to pursue a degree in construction management when he learned of the opportunity to intern at CIRI.
“Even though I was primarily interning out of North Wind’s office in South Anchorage, everybody I met at CIRI was amazing and very generous with their time,” Braden shared. “People were more than willing to talk about their experience and offer advice. I would say that anybody considering CIRI’s summer internship program should pursue it because it’s definitely worth it.”
Outside of work, Braden enjoys golf, fishing and skiing. He plans to enroll in Alaska Pacific University’s MBA program this fall because “it would help me broaden my horizons,” he said. As for leaving Alaska, “I don’t see it, because I really love it up here. I enjoy my job and the people I work with. It would be tough to leave, for sure.”
Braden’s advice for young people looking to connect with their culture and heritage is simple: Seek what you desire and live in the moment. “Immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing; put your phone away and enjoy where you are at the time,” he emphasized. “In some families it’s easier because you’re around it (Alaska Native culture), but for many of us—myself included—you need to seek it out, which can be challenging. Travel. Educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to get out and be adventurous.”
For more information about the CIRI summer internship program, visit ciri.com/internship.
Thank you to CIRI summer intern Lauren Culhane for contributing to this article!