First Alaskans Institute Hires Indigenous Advancement Director
First Alaskans Institute announced the hiring of Melissa Silugngataanit’sqaq Borton (Sugpiaq) as its Indigenous Advancement Director. In this role, she will contribute to the long-term sustainability of FAI by utilizing values-based innovations to grow the financial foundation that supports our work. With her depth of experience in the realms of development and leadership, she brings the vision, professional skills, and direct experience to the organization’s sustainability efforts and brings her strengths to the work it does in service and support of communities across the state.
Silugngataanit’sqaq was born on Kodiak Island and has ties to Chignik Lagoon in the Bristol Bay Region. Her maternal grandparents are Harold Nielsen and Helen Pedersen and her parents are Bertha Nielsen of Chignik and Laszlo Marton of Hungary. She spent the past twenty-five years working in the Koniag region helping her people, beginning with the Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) in the Social Services Department programs for village elders, youth, wellness, behavioral health, tribal operations, and Village Public Safety Officers. After working at KANA, she became the tribal administrator for the Native Village of Afognak, where she led the Tribe’s development and operations for more than fourteen years. She especially enjoys working with the Dig Afognak summer youth camp and receives much inspiration from youth.
Silugngataanit’sqaq serves as the Kodiak Villages representative on the Alaska Federation of Natives board of directors. She has also served as a school board member and as a member of the historic Governor’s Tribal Advisory Council for the State of Alaska under Governor Walker. She enjoys fishing, hunting, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends. She is an alumna of the FAI First Nations’ Futures Fellowship and most recently volunteered as an emcee at our 2019 Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala.
In This Issue
The Marx Bros. Café
Jack Amon and Richard “Van” Hale opened the doors of the Marx Bros. Café on October 18, 1979; however, the two had already been partners in cuisine for some time, having created the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday, a weekly evening of food and wine. It was actually the end of the weekly event that spurred the name of the restaurant: hours after its final service, Amon and Hale were hauling equipment and furnishings out of their old location and to their now-iconic building on Third Street, all while managing arguments about equipment ownership, a visit from the police, and quite a bit of wine. “If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘A Night at the Opera” starring the Marx Brothers, that’s what it was like,” Hale explains.