The Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center Celebrates Alaska Native Women Trailblazers and the Passage of the Senate Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing the Successes and Contributions of Native Women

In Featured, News, Press Releases by Candy Keown


March 25, 2024

Press Contact: Candy Keown Tel: (907) 378‑3339




The Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC) honors and celebrates the incredible contributions of Alaska Native matriarchs during Women’s Her-story Month and applauds the unanimous passing of bipartisan U.S. Senate Resolution 597 honoring the achievements of Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women.

Alaska Native women have always been at the forefront of social, cultural, and political change, embodying resilience, determination, and innovation,” said Tami Truett Jerue, Executive Director of the AKNWRC. “Their achievements and contributions have had a significant impact on shaping our modern world, and the AKNWRC Staff and Board of Directors are honored to remember and uplift them during Women’s Her-story Month.”

Each March, the AKNWRC honors and celebrates Alaska Native Women during Women’s History Month. Over the last four weeks, the AKNWRC has spotlighted notable Alaska Native Women for their contributions and leadership to the betterment of life for Alaska Native people, including Katie John, Rose Pitka Blumenstein, and Della Keats.

Katie John, an Ahtna Athabaskan advocate, language teacher, and subsistence rights activist, dedicated her life to sharing and preserving traditional and subsistence ways of living and culture. Katie’s legacy continues to inspire the generations after to advocate for language, land, and subsistence rights.

Rita Pitka Blumenstein was a Yup’ik traditional healer. At age 4, Rita began her lifelong mission of healing others. She was the first certified traditional doctor in Alaska and shared her knowledge of culture, basketry, drumming, plant medicine, skin sewing, song, storytelling, and talking circles with countless others. Rita was a member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, consisting of elders, medicine women, and wisdom keepers. She traveled to and taught cultural ways in 167 countries.

Della Keats was an Inupiaq traditional healer and midwife. Della was a daughter, wife, and mother of 3 and lived a subsistence lifestyle. She used three tools to heal: her hands, head, and her heart. Della’s highly developed hands and sense of touch could diagnose troubles and pains and Della would often prescribe traditional plant medicines or perform massages on her patients. In 1983, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in Health Sciences by the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Della’s contributions and memory are honored annually at the Alaska Federation of Natives through their “Della Keats Healing Hands Award.”

The AKNWRC also celebrates the unanimous passing of U.S. Senate Resolution 597, which Alaska’s Senator and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Lisa Murkowski, said, “[s]ince 2018, I have had the honor to introduce a resolution recognizing the heritage, culture, and contributions of many American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women in the United States, including Mary Jane Fate, Katie John, Elizabeth Peratrovich, and Laura Beltz Wright from Alaska. I am proud that my colleagues in the Senate supported this resolution as we celebrate all women.”

As we honor Women’s History Month, let us celebrate the enduring legacy and extraordinary achievements of Alaska Native women,” said Tami Truett Jerue, Executive Director of AKNWRC. “Their stories serve as a testament to the strength, resilience, and cultural richness of Alaska Native peoples, inspiring us to embrace diversity and strive for a more equitable future.”

About the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center:

Organized in 2015, the AKNWRC is a tribal nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against women with Alaska’s 229 tribes and allied organizations. The AKNWRC board members are Alaska Native women, raised in Alaska Native Villages, and have 153 years of combined experience in tribal governments, nonprofit management, domestic violence, and sexual assault advocacy (both individual crisis and systems), and grassroots social change advocacy at the local, statewide, regional, national, and international levels. The AKNWRC’s philosophy is that violence against women is rooted in the colonization of indigenous nations.