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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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Elaine Abraham

Tlingit elder and Secretary of the Board of Commissioner's


Elaine Abraham was born and raised in Yakutat, Alaska, where she now resides. Her father was a traditional Tlingit chief and Elaine was raised in the traditional Tlingit manner. After earning a nursing degree and working for several years in Arizona, she returned to Alaska as the first Tlingit registered nurse. She served at hospitals in Juneau, Mt. Edgecumbe and in Bethel during a diphtheria epidemic. She assisted in the opening of the Alaska Native Health Service Hospital in Anchorage in 1954.

Ms. Abraham moved to Sitka where she worked as a nurse; served as school board president during the desegregation of the village school; organized the Southeast Health Aide Program with Dr. Justice from Mt. Edgecumbe, which became the model for the statewide Alaska Native Health Aide Program; and organized the Southeast Native Board of Health.

At Sitka's Sheldon Jackson College she served as Associate Dean of Students, Director of Social Services and Vice President for Institutional Development. She developed the Tlingit and Haida Language Teachers Training program and helped in the creation of the Alaska Native Language Center, University of Alaska.

In 1976, Ms. Abraham began her service at the University of Alaska, serving as Vice President for Rural Education Affairs, Coordinator of Native Student Services and Associate Professor at the Anchorage campus.

Her educational credentials include a Master is of Arts in Teaching, Alaska Pacific University; a Bachelor's degree in Human Resources Development, APU; a Certificate in Native Linguistics, University of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Associate of Arts in Anthropology, Sheldon Jackson College; and she received the highest recorded score for the Psychiatric Nurse Evaluation in Arizona.

Ms. Abraham is a revered Tlingit elder and serves as Secretary of the Board of Commissioner's of the Alaska Native Science Commission.

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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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