Published October 2017
My husband Arnold and I have been married for 43 years. We have four children: Pamela, Audrey, April who is married to Robert, and our son Calvin, who is married to Amy. We have 13 grandchildren and 5 great-grand babies. God’s many blessings.
Who are your parents?
My mother was the late Ella Craig who was from Cordova. My Father, the late Oscar Craig, was from the Copper river area. They had six children together: Raymond, Darlene, Elsie, me, Johnny and Charley, who were all born in Cordova except my youngest brother Charley, who was born in Kodiak where my Father worked on the naval base as a mechanic for a few years. We also had older brothers: Art, Peter and Roy. My mother died in 1952 when I was 9 from cancer. She was a very kind lady. I remember when she would call us in for dinner, she would stand at the door and sing “Open the Door for the Children” until we were all in. After she died my oldest brother Raymond chose to stay with our grandpa in Cordova and the 5 of us were transplanted to Tazlina to live with my Father and his wife, Mary. They had 3 daughters together: Arlene, Marlene and Judy (deceased). His wife Mary had 3 sons: Ernie, Ronald and Lynn and daughter Linda (deceased). My siblings and I had a very tough time after moving from Cordova. We really missed our mother. It was a rough life.
My father taught us to always work hard for what you want and not to depend on others. He was very active in our Native community. He helped to get the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood in the Copper River area and worked very hard on the Native lands claims before he passed in 1967. He also helped built the Brenwick/Craig Road along with his sister Lucille Brenwick and her husband Leonard and also some of my brothers. I know my dad’s involvement with the Native community has rubbed off on some of his children.
What tribe are you with?
I am enrolled to Kluti-Kaah, Copper Center Village. My maternal grandmother and great grandmother were from Southeast, so we are also part Tlingit, Athabascan and Norwegian. My mother’s clan was Eagle, so we follow her clan. Through my paternal grandfather, myself and my siblings are third generation Irish.
What are you most passionate about in your life currently?
I am most passionate about my faith in God. I am very passionate about our subsistence way of life and will work towards making sure we do not lose it. Also, the fruition of our co-management of fish and game on our land, that for some reason we keep having to fight for, what is already ours.
What are some of your hobbies or activities you enjoy?
I love canning – fish, moose meat, jams, jellies, vegetables, etc, making my own juice, whatever I can. It makes me feel wonderful. I love fishing, hunting, camping, sitting by a campfire, sewing, reading, baking breads – cinnamon rolls, all kinds of goodies, cooking. Also going for car rides with my sweetheart – Arnold.
What are your hopes for the future of Ahtna?
I would like to see our corporation do so well that our shareholders start receiving a dividend check once a month before we lose any more of our people that are dying without anything.
What made you want to join the board?
I felt I needed to be involved and had a lot to learn, and if I was complaining about anything that I should not sit on the sideline. I should get involved with the corporation and to make sure that I would look after the best interests for my village and shareholders as a whole.
What excites you most about working on the board?
Working together with different personalities and the knowledge, coming up with the best solutions and investments for our corporation and most important our shareholders. I love working with the board and for our people.
What are some of the key things you wanted to change or implement when you joined the board?
I wanted to increase the dividend amount for our Elders and I am proud to say I kept pushing for it and managed to get it passed to add another $100 to it, raising it to only $400 and I will continue to push for higher dividends for elders and all of our shareholders.
Also wanted to see more of our shareholders being trained under a mentorship and development plan so they can eventually move into those higher paying positions that are now held by non-shareholders. The best training is hands on. I feel that we need more people working in shareholder development to be able to reach out to more of our shareholders and we need to be more proactive in reaching out to them. We also need to revisit our application minimum qualifications, which on some of them are way too high and I don’t believe it is necessary. I believe it can be very intimidating for many of our shareholders. I don’t think an MBA is necessary for most of management positions.
I pray for a prosperous Ahtna people, today and for generations to come.