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Huna Heritage Foundation awards 35 scholarships to Tlingit students

The Huna Heritage Foundation awarded 35 Huna Totem shareholders and descendants with $35,000 in higher education scholarships this month.

This year’s scholarship recipients vary in age from 18 to 68 and are studying everything from fine art to behavioral neuroscience to fire science, with several majoring in accounting and nursing. The recipients are from Hoonah, Sitka, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, Juneau, Douglas, Anchorage, Wasilla, Kake and several cities throughout the Lower 48 states.

The Huna Heritage Foundation’s mission is to perpetuate Huna Tlingit culture and promote education for present and future generations of Alaska Natives with ancestral ties to Hoonah and Sít’ Eeti Gheeyi, the Tlingit name for Glacier Bay. The foundation awards scholarships twice a year to Huna Tlingit students.

“This is a core program that has been fully supported by Huna Totem Corporation from the beginning,” said Kathryn Hurtley, Huna Heritage Foundation executive director. “Education is a key element in supporting the next generation of native leaders, educators, business professionals and policy makers.”

Past scholarship recipients have gone on to work in and give back to the Huna Tlingit community. Anthony Lindoff now lives in Juneau and helps bring new business opportunities to the region. He graduated from Fort Lewis College in Colorado with a bachelor’s in International Business and returned to Alaska to work at Sealaska in 2008 after graduation. He now works for its newest subsidiary, Haa Aani, LLC, which focuses on economic development in rural Southeast Alaska.

Huna Heritage Foundation also helped support Michelle Martin through her undergraduate and graduate degrees at University of Alaska Southeast. Martin is now the director for the Parents As Teachers Program in the Hoonah City School District.

“I’ve always dreamed of working with Native students, helping them become successful in their education and helping parents to be active in the schools,” Martin said. “My cultural upbringing in Hoonah influenced me to teach through our Tlingit culture heritage, emphasizing my teaching with cultural and local relevancy.”

Kristi Skaflestad is yet another success story. The new chef/owner of Chipper Fish restaurant in Hoonah says scholarships helped her through Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts (formerly Western Culinary Institute) in Portland, Ore. With her restaurant’s first season now behind her, she’s already started plans to add a coffee shop next May.

“I knew I would come back to Alaska,” Skaflestad said. “I love Hoonah, and it was the easiest place to start a new business. I have so much support here and the local community is amazing.”

>From 2004 through 2011, Huna Heritage Foundation provided nearly $625,000 in scholarships.

Huna Heritage Foundation was founded in 1991 and is funded primarily by Huna Totem Corporation, the Native village corporation owned by more than 1,300 Alaska Natives with ancestral ties to Hoonah and Glacier Bay. The foundation supports the Huna Tlingit community through a number of programs that preserve and promote the culture and by providing scholarship funds to shareholders and their descendants seeking a higher education.

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