PUBLISHED: 4:37 PM on Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Leadership Institute completes first of two week-long gatherings
Anchorage, AK - Twenty-eight young Alaska Native leaders (18-35 years old) from around the state of Alaska were selected and completed the first week-long gathering of the Arctic Institute for Indigenous Leadership, held in Fairbanks. The goal of the AIIL is to support the personal and professional growth of young leaders while providing an opportunity to build a statewide network. The Institute was effective in building trust, common understanding and mutual support among the community.

According to Karlin Itchoak, AIIL participant and owner of Itchoak Tribal Services,"(The) AIIL is amazing! What an important group of young and inspiring leaders. The group is well balanced, intuitive, intelligent, and rooted in the retaining and maintaining of Native cultures, and traditions all with a passion and commitment toward leadership. These young leaders are free-thinking visionaries with creative and unique ideas for problem-solving and consensus building."

Indigenous communities in Alaska, while diverse in their geographic and cultural heritage, face similar challenges in the process of decolonization. This unique Institute has been a timely opportunity for the next generation of leaders to build a foundation of history and knowledge that is often not obtained in mainstream curriculums.

Pearl Brower, who works for the President of Ilisagvik College, said: "This institute was an experience of a lifetime. It was amazing to interact with so many passionate, brilliant Native young adults. I think these relations will cover time, distance, and culture."

The Leadership Institute has created a community among young Alaskan Native leaders who are committed to personal and community healing. These young Alaska Native people seek creative and innovative approaches to revitalizing our cultures, languages, and ways of living utilizing traditional knowledge and modern technology.

"This has been the best growing and learning experiences I have ever had. It was absolutely amazing to sit with other young Alaska Native leaders and share food, songs, dances and similar challenges that we all face today," said Shawna Larson of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Indigenous Environmental Network.

Representing Southeast Alaska are Karla Booth and Kathy Miller. Booth is Tsimshian of the Raven Clan. She was raised in Seattle, but considers the communities of Metlakatla and Kake home. She graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2003 with a BA in English and a minor in Alaska Native Studies. Currently Booth, 27, resides in Anchorage and works at UAA for the Department of Residence Life. She assists Alaska Native, Native American, and rural students living on the UAA campus and creates social activities that have an Alaska Native focus. She dances with a Tsimshian dance group and enjoys arts and crafts.

Miller has spent most of her life in her birthplace of Sitka. She graduated from Sitka High School and pursued further education by way of business related courses most recently focusing on Human Resources. Since 2004, she's been employed with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and currently is the Director of Administrative Services. She worked for the City of Sitka at the Community Hospital in the Business Office. Her family is all from Sitka with the exception of her sister, who lives in Juneau. She's a single mother of a teenager, who is the reason for her passion regarding young people. She finds herself relating well to the young people who she mentors.

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