Frances Ozenna, our Tribal Coordinator from Diomede was nominated and selected as the Tribal Administrator of the year in 2018 with Alaska Tribal Administrator Association (ATAA).  A film crew came up in October and went out to Diomede to get her story.  We are very proud of her work and commitment to her Tribe and the village of Diomede!

See the video of their visit here:

Frances “Sistuq” Ozenna was born raised by her mother, Dora Iyapana Ahkinga, and father, Orville Ahkinga Sr., on Little Diomede Island. Sistuq has served Little Diomede as the Tribal Coordinator for 10 years. Sistuq can’t imagine a more beautiful and bountiful island on which to live. She along with her brothers and sisters grew up with a subsistence lifestyle more traditional than most. Her wisdom comes from experience and a desire to learn, not the classroom. Although she holds certificates in Quickbooks and received Tribal Coordinator Training to assist with paperwork, the most valuable education she has received for her position is out on the land and sea. Sistuq treasures her traditional Inupiaq culture, and loves to gather greens, Eskimo potatoes, beach cabbage, and salmonberries that grow around the steep cliffsides of Little Diomede. The teachings passed down to her instilled her with the skills to help sustain her community such as fermenting, sewing skin boats as her mother had, and helping hunters identify whether or not harvested animals are safe to eat. She spends a lot of time teaching her children and others who wish to learn, the traditional ways of processing a variety of food that come from the ocean, so that they can have this subsistence lifestyle, which is still practiced on Diomede today. In addition to traditional teachings, Sistuq also had the self-discipline to teach herself skills necessary to ensure the community’s government and economic resources were in order, holding various positions at the city including clerking and bookkeeping. 

Sistuq’s passion for her culture, her vision for the future, and the inherent love of her community is what makes her an incredible Tribal Coordinator and valuable member of Little Diomede. As Sistuq sees it, “the most important accomplishment in my role continues to be unifying the City, Tribe and Corporation, and encouraging them to work together.” Sistuq believes that it takes knowledge of the entire Inaliq community and outside resources to protect and preserve the environment we depend on every day. She reflects, “A healthy community works well together.”