I am Koyukon Athabascan and was gifted CIRI shares from my mother, Marie Parker. My mother was born in Rampart, Alaska, a small village on the Yukon River. My maternal grandmother was Mary Carlo, and my great-grandmother was Lucy (Pitka) Carlo. I was born in Ketchikan and raised in Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska.
I currently chair CIRI’s Shareholder Participation Committee—Alaska (outside Anchorage) Committee and I hope to encourage other shareholders and descendants to get involved with their corporation! CIRI has so many opportunities, from Next Gen programs for young shareholders and descendants to educational funding available through The CIRI Foundation.
My professional experience includes coordinating political campaigns in Alaska and working for the film and television industry in Seattle. I also loved being an assistant for consultants on the capital campaign for the Alaska Native Heritage Center; I learned so much about Alaska’s many Native cultures and it was extremely rewarding!
I have been fortunate to work for two of the CIRI family of nonprofit organizations, first at Koahnic Broadcast Corp. and then at Southcentral Foundation (SCF), where I currently work as a program coordinator. It is so fulfilling to work for a company like SCF that “grows its own” and improves the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness of Alaska Native/American Indian people.
I remember going up to my uncle’s (Henry Parker) Angel Creek Lodge in Fairbanks in the summer and fishing for grayling and rainbow trout. We would also visit my mother’s family and attend potlucks. My mother’s aunt (Poldine Carlo) would try and teach me how to bead a flower on a piece of moose hide. I am still a terrible beader but I cherish those memories. I remember my mother smoking salmon and “putting up fish” for the winter, and she made the best blueberry jam and homemade bread.
I encourage young shareholders and descendants to take ownership of their heritage and to get involved with CIRI. Their experiences and memories will not be the same as mine or those of our Elders, and that is OK! Our Native heritage belongs to us all, whether we grew up in a village or a subdivision. Everyone has something to share and contribute; it is our responsibility to take part in our corporation, preserving our heritage and crafting our future.