Published July 2018
Margie’s hard work and diligence have greatly benefited our company and the Ahtna people. From the Ahtna Board of Directors and staff, we would like to congratulate her on a job well done and retirement well deserved.
Margie’s Ahtna career began in 1977 when the company was still in its infancy. She was hired as the Receptionist for the Copper Center office and was promoted to Shareholder Records that same year. The hours were long in those early days, but Margie says she was fortunate to be amongst good company and helpful co-workers. Margie left the company in 1978, but returned in 1983 as Executive Assistant and spent over for ten years in the position providing Shareholder Records support. She also supported the Board of Directors and was a non-voting Board Secretary for over three years. Although working in Shareholder Records had its challenges, Margie said that she really enjoyed being able to work one-on-one with shareholders and it’s what kept her with the company for so many years. Margie found it enjoyable to travel to the villages and work with the people. She especially liked working with the Elders and they appreciated that she could talk to them in their language.
Margie has a keen ability to identify areas for improvement and find solutions. Grieving families would come into the Ahtna office after losing a loved one and she wanted to find a way to help. When she lost her own nephew she was inspired to start the Memorial Program at Ahtna. She would type the programs on a typewriter and if a mistake was made she would have to start all over again.
When asked how things are different now than in the early days of Ahtna, Margie is quick to single out technology. “In 1977 there were no computers and when I came back in 1983 computers were just being introduced in the workplace.”
In 1993 the Ahtna Anchorage office closed and Margie attended Alaska Computer College and earned her computer accounting certificate. In 1996 she was hired as the Assistant Office Manager for Price Ahtna in Fairbanks. The Ahtna Anchorage office reopened that year and Margie went to work for Ahtna Development Corporation as a Contracts Coordinator Manager.
Margie rejoined Ahtna, Inc. in 2006 as Shareholder/Supervisor Manager and would fill in as Board Secretary as needed since she had extensive experience working with the Board. In 2011, Margie went to work for Ahtna Construction and Primary Products Corp. (AC&PPC) as their Office Manager. At the time AC&PPC had no way of tracking invoices and Margie developed an Excel spreadsheet to track them all the way from receipt to payment.
“When I started the company was a lot smaller. We have evolved so much. In the long run I think Ahtna has worked for the betterment of our shareholders as a whole. Now we employ a lot of shareholders – more than we did before.”
Her advice for young people today is to get an education or learn a trade. Most importantly you need to be able to teach yourself discipline she says. Margie’s late cousin, Ruby Tansy John, was an important inspiration to her and helped her learn the value of discipline. Ruby was instrumental in the early stages of land claims and worked side-by-side with Alaska Native activist Etok Edwardsen of Barrow, Alaska. When Ruby and Etok would travel, Margie would drive them to the airport and pick them up.
“Ruby was a powerful woman. She encouraged me to go to college. I was accepted but I didn’t go. Also my two sisters, Eleanor Dementi and Elsie Nicklie, inspired me. As soon as Eleanor’s children grew older she became politically active and served on many Boards, including President of the Alaska State School Board and Vice Chairman of Ahtna, Inc. If it wasn’t for Elsie I wouldn’t have been able to go to school. She provided a home for us and worked long, hard hours in the hospital kitchen to be able to provide for us.”
Margie’s parents are the late Dan Nicklie and Tammany Monaghan and she was born in Cantwell, Alaska along with her six brothers and two sisters. She is a member of the Udzisyu, Caribou Clan. She and her late husband, Markle Frank Ewan Jr., have two sons, Kenneth and Michael, and a daughter, the late Kimberly. She has six great grandchildren and five grandchildren (Tyler, John Frank, Rylynn, Sarah and Rachelle), three of whom she’s adopted. Margie moved to Anchorage as a teenager to attend West High School, but enjoyed going home to Cantwell every summer.