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 2024 First Nations’ Futures Program (FNFP) cohort:
- Qaaġraq Corina Kramer (Iñupiaq)
- Goos’k’ Ralph Wolfe (Lingít, Xaadas, Hawaiian)
- Siġvanna Meghan Tapqaq (Iñupiaq)
- Janessa Newman (Koyukon Dene and Iñupiaq)
- Natasha Hayden (Alutiiq/Suqpiaq)
- Laa.éi Kathleen John (Lingít)
This program is a unique partnership between the Indigenous peoples of Alaska, Hawai’i and Aotearoa (New Zealand). It was 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 at a pivotal stage in their journey where an extra boost or challenge 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, last year’s in-person convening was hosted in Aotearoa by our FNFP Māori partners, Ngāi Tahu, a large Tribe from the South Island of Aotearoa, and the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. This year will be hosted in Hawai’i by our Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) relatives and our hosting partner Ko’ohele Strategies led by Uncle Neil Hannahs with funding support from Kamehameha Schools. FAI, along with our other FNPF Partners have much to look forward to in being the guests of our Kanaka Maoli partners and relatives.
A core element of FNFP are the discussions and values propositions developed by the Fellows 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 our Indigenous ways of life, and cultural practices that align with focus areas of our Alaska Native peoples, Kanaka Maoli, and Māori. 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. They will also be active on the ‘āina (land) with our Hawaiian hosts, engaging and learning on the homelands of our relatives.
On behalf of the FAI Board of Trustees and staff, we extend our congratulations to the 2024 Fellows and gratitude to their families, employers, and communities for supporting their involvement!
|Qaaġraq Corina Kramer, Iñupiaq, is from the Native Villages of Noorvik and Kotzebue, Alaska. Qaaġraq is a co-founder and course instructor for Respectful Research and Founder of Mumik Consulting, LLC, assisting Indigenous-serving organizations enhance their initiatives. Qaaġraq teaches the integration of Iñupiaq values into western business, ethics, education, research, and health practices. She leads media projects promoting cultural understanding, healthy lifestyles, and addressing the social issues affecting Alaska Natives. She is the granddaughter of the late Alfred Sr. and Hannah Wells of Noorvik and is married to Qaluraq Lance Kramer of Kotzebue.
Góos'k' Ralph Wolfe is the Tlingit & Haida Director of Indigenous Stewardship Programs under the Native Lands & Resources division. Góos'k' focuses on the Seacoast Indigenous Guardians Network, Traditional Food Security, and Alaska Youth Stewards programs to implement environmental stewardship and economic sustainability projects that target traditional foods, youth, energy, and natural resources. Góos'k' previously served as the director of the Sustainable Southeast Partnership at Spruce Root, community catalyst for Yakutat thru Spruce Root, and office manager for Yakutat Tlingit Tribe. He was previously elected by the community of Yakutat to serve as an Assembly member then served as Mayor, as a Tlingit & Haida Delegate and Vice President on the T&H Executive Council. On his Haida side, he is Eagle Frog of the Kooskadee clan and was adopted as a Tlingit Raven of the Kwaashk’ikwáan. Góos'k's family are the Huihui’s from Waimanalo who trace their lineage to Hana, Maui. He was born and raised in Craig, Alaska. He and his wife Káaswóot make their home in Yakutat and spend time in Sitka to support the education of their sons, Jace and Jackson.
Siġvanna Meghan Tapqaq is Iñupiaq with family roots in Nome, Qawiaraq, and White Mountain. She serves as the Staff Attorney at Kawerak, Inc., providing legal services to 19 tribes in the Bering Strait region. These services range from election assistance to providing guidance on personnel matters to tribal justice development. She enjoys teaching Iñupiaq language, tribal government, and history courses as an adjunct professor for University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also serves on the Nome City Council, having been first elected in 2018. Sig serves on a variety of boards, including the Alaska Bar Association Board of Governors, Alaska Municipal League Board of Directors, Alaska Legal Services Board of Directors, and the Alaska Bar Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2013, she graduated with a BA from Dartmouth College, and in 2017, a juris doctorate degree from University of Oregon School of Law, from which she received the "Outstanding Recent Alumni" award in 2021 in recognition of significant career, leadership, and service contributions to her community.
Janessa Newman is Koyukon Dene and Inupiaq from Rampart on the Yukon River. Her parents are Ken "Boots" and Denise (Swenson) Newman from Rampart and Tanana. Janessa grew up on the banks of the Yukon with her parents, grandparents, and cousins at the family fish camp. Her upbringing with salmon serves as the foundation for everything she does. She is currently an Interdisciplinary Graduate Student and Tamamta Fellow at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Janessa’s graduate work has been a fluid journey of re-learning, recognizing, and uplifting the brilliance of Indigenous peoples and knowledge contained just below the surface of who we are. In tandem, her graduate work also looks at systems of oppression, political ecology, and natural resource management. By untangling the untruths and reigniting the essence of who we are, she believes that together we can chart a future where everyone has bigger and brighter hopes for tomorrow.
Natasha Hayden is Alutiiq/Suqpiaq and was born and raised in a fishing family in Kodiak, Alaska. Natasha is the mother of three children. She and her husband are the owner/operators of a 58- foot, steel, fixed gear fishing vessel targeting halibut, sablefish, and pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska and the Aleutians. Natasha earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2009 and is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Alaska. She was elected to serve on to the Native Village of Afognak Tribal Council in 2014 where she continues to serve. In addition, she served on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s (NPFMC) Advisory Panel from 2018 to 2020. Natasha currently serves on the Kodiak/Aleutian Regional Advisory Council advising the Federal Subsistence Board since 2019 and the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries starting in 2023. Natasha is employed as the VP of Lands & Natural Resources for the Afognak Native Corporation. Her responsibilities include working towards ensuring the protection, preservation, and utilization of its more than 220,000 acres of ANCSA and ANILCA land located in the north part of the Kodiak Archipelago.
Laa.éi Kathleen John is Wooshkeetaan from the Toos’ Hit from the Juneau- Douglas area, the unceded territory of the Aak’w Kwáan. Her father is Charlie John, Deisheetaan from Angoon, and her mother is Mary John. Laa.éi has been working with youth for over ten years in many capacities, from Tlingit and Haida Headstart to a youth facilities home for the Douglas Indian Association (DIA). Presently, she is the Education Project Coordinator for DIA where she teaches the culture, language, art and history of the Tlingit people. She is currently serving a second year as Vice President for the Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) camp 2. She served one year as Sargant at Arms for Alaska Native Sisterhood Grand Camp. Laa.éi helped form the Aanáx Kawdigaan, a youth dance group at DIA. She enjoys traveling, sewing dance robes, tunics, vests, and hats. She has been expanding her knowledge to cedar hats, spruce root gathering, and Ravenstail weaving.
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