First Nations’ Futures Program – 2023 Alaska Fellows are selected

First Alaskans Institute (FAI), a statewide Alaska Native nonprofit focused on advancing Alaska Natives for the next 10,000 years, is pleased to announce the selection of our 10th annual First Nations’ Futures Program (FNFP) cohort:

• Qaiyaan Harcharek (Iñupiaq)
• Unignax Dustin Newman (Unangax̂/Deg Hit’an)
• Ch’aak’tí Shawaan Jackson-Gamble (Tsaagweidi, Lingít/Haida)
• Tumaq Cody Pequeño (Cup’ik)
• Jonathan Samuelson (Yupiaq/Dene)
Kaaswóot Gloria Wolfe (Lingít)


This program is a unique partnership between the Indigenous peoples of Alaska, Hawai’i and Aotearoa (New Zealand) created to cultivate and grow Indigenous leadership in service of our families, cultures, employers, communities, homelands and the world. Cohort members are active leaders who are in mid-career/cultural/community leadership roles or at a pivotal stage in their journey where an extra boost will amplify their abilities to advance Indigenous peoples. In the past, FNFP featured a two-week, on-site certificate program thru the gathering of the three cohorts at Stanford University. After taking a three-year hiatus of in-person gatherings during the pandemic, this year’s in-person convening will be hosted in Aotearoa by our FNFP Maori partners, Ngai Tahu, a large Tribe from the South Island of Aotearoa, and the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Our hosts have envisioned our time together as part of this strategic leadership course as the Braided Rivers Institute. FAI, along with our other FNPF Partners, Ho’okele Strategies, Sealaska, Stanford University, and Kamehameha Schools have much to look forward to in being the guests of our Maori partners and relatives.

A core element of FNFP are the discussions and values propositions the Fellows develop to advance their ideas in service to their communities through their work, passions, and responding to the needs of their peoples. These Fellows were selected because of their unique work and connection with the oceans and waters, ways of life, and cultural practices that align with focus areas of FAI and the Braided Rivers Institute. Fellows strengthen their leadership while envisioning ways to enact Ancestral imperatives to steward and care for our peoples, lands and cultures. They participate in diverse sessions engaging with cultural, thought, and entrepreneurial leaders from across the partners. They build relationships with one another, Indigenous leaders from former cohorts and invited guests. They will dialogue about Indigenous law and policy issues, cultural paradigms and advancements, and stewardship of land, waters, animals and other aspects of our homeland and Native ways of life.

On behalf of the FAI Board of Trustees and staff, we extend our congratulations to the 2023 Fellows and gratitude to their families, employers, and communities for supporting their involvement!


Qaiyaan Harcharek is Ikpikpaŋmiu from Ikpikpak, born and raised in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. He is happily married to Sikkattuaq Jamie and they are proud aaka and aapa (father and mother) of their children, Aaġluaq Kimmialuk Pomaika’iokala, Qayaaq Tepoura Hāpuna, Sisualik Sirraġiñ Lilinoē and Qutan Uiññiq Līhau. They are raising their children to be strong, proud and culturally grounded Iñupiat as lifelong learners and culture bearers of their language and culture. He is a whaler, harpooner, hunter and trapper. He and his family hunt year-round and are grateful for the animals that give themselves to them to provide sustenance for their bodies and souls.

Photo by Sikkattuaq Jamie Harcharek
Qaiyaan Harcharek


Ch’aak’tí Shawaan Jackson-Gamble belongs to the Tsaagweidi Clan (Killer Whale) Xaay Hít (Yellow Cedar House) of Kéex’ Kwáan (Kake). He was raised in Southeast Alaskan communities, Kake and Sitka, by his parents, Dawn Jackson and Tom Gamble, respectively. His maternal grandparents are Mike and Edna Jackson, and paternal grandparents are the late Anita Wright and Art Gamble. He holds a bachelors in Native Environmental Science from Northwest Indian College. He enjoys hunting, fishing, exploring his homelands, sewing seal and sea otter, and working in the smokehouse. He was the 2019-2020 Tlingit & Haida Emerging Leader and 2019 AFN Southeast Regional Village Alternate. He currently serves as the Tlingit & Haida Youth Commission Advisory Committee Chair and secretary treasurer for Native Peoples Action C3 board. He is an FAI Statewide Elders & Youth Conference alum and is a 2021 FAI Public Policy Fellowship alum. He is currently an FAI Indigenous Stewardship Fellow. He is passionate about protecting and managing lands, waters, animal relatives and resources for future generations.

Photo by Dawn Kaaxwáan Jackson

Ch’aak’tí Shawaan Jackson-Gamble


Unignax Dustin Newman lives in Anchorage and has family roots in the communities of King Cove and Anvik. His maternal grandparents are the late Rudy Demoski and Agnes “Babydoll” Gould and paternal grandparents are Clara Smith and the late Robert “Babe” Newman. He is a kayak builder, storyteller, traditional tattoo practitioner and dancer with the Anchorage Unangax̂ Dancers. He currently serves as the Youth Services Coordinator at the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association. He was the conference guide at FAI’s 2020 Elders & Youth Conference, and he designed the logo for the 2021 Elders & Youth Conference.

Photo courtesy of Unignax Dustin Newman

Unignax Dustin Newman


Tumaq Cody Pequeño is a member of the Qissunamiut Tribe and grew up in Chevak, Alaska. Tumaq teaches Cuuyaraq (Cup’ik ways of life), Yuraq (Cup’ik singing and dancing) as ways of helping our people using these traditional methods taught to him by his local Cup’ik Elders and Yup’ik Elders throughout the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. He is a member of the Qemirmiut dance group. He is a language and culture bearer and teacher and has taught a Cup’ik Nasqurun (headdress) workshop and others. He is a comedian and a part of the “Cody & Cody” duo where they have shared hilarious stories and positive messages to promote healing through laughter. He is a hunter, fisherman and provider and enjoys being on the lands and waters. He is currently an FAI Indigenous Stewardship Fellow.

Photo by by John Wallace

 Tumaq Cody Pequeño


Jonathan Samuelson was raised on the banks of the Kuskokwim River alongside his siblings, cousins, and fish. His parents are Debbie Hartman (Vanderpool) and Sam Samuelson. Driven by a passion for people and cross-cultural sharing, his work has always centered around making connections and helping others realize inner strengths and tools they already have. He currently works for The Kuskokwim Corporation. He is a citizen of the Native Village of Georgetown, and serves on the tribal council and is their appointed commissioner to the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (KRITFC). He also works toward systems change as an advisor to the Tamamta and Indigenizing Salmon Science & Management programs through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He enjoys spending time on the river, hearing life stories from anyone willing to share, and writing poetry.

Photo by Ricki Nicoli

 Jonathan Samuelson


Kaaswóot Gloria Wolfe is Wooshkeetaan, Eagle Moiety of the Shark Clan and grew up on the land of her grandparents on the sandy shores of Yakutat, Alaska where she currently lives with her husband Ralph and two sons. She has over 20 years’ experience in working with Elders, youth, and her community in a variety of capacities including advocacy, teaching, grant management and leadership. Most recently, she served as the Native Connections Project Director for the Yakutat Community Health Center, the Yakutat School Board President, leads the Yakutat Surf Club, and is a key leader and organizer of the Mt. St. Elias Dance Group. She currently serves as Indigenous Leadership Continuum Director at FAI

Photo by Sarah Lewis

 Kaaswóot Gloria Wolfe

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