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‘Wáahlaal Gidaag Barbara Blake

Alaska Native Policy Center Director

Photo by Berett Alexa Wilber

‘Wáahlaal Gidaag is from Prince of Wales Island and lives in Juneau where she will be based out of for this position. She belongs to the Káat nay-st/Yahkw Jáanaas (Shark House/Middle Town People) Clan. She is the daughter of Sandra Demmert (Yahkw Jáanaas) and Kenneth Johnson (Naltsiine) who is Ahtna Athabascan, and the granddaughter of Frances Demmert Peele (Yahkw Jáanaas), Franklin Demmert, Sr. (Teeyeeneidi), Irene Johnson (Naltsiine) and Walter Johnson (Norwegian). ‘Wáahlaal Gidaag is a founding member of the Xaadaas Dagwii, a Haida dance group in Juneau, and is a lifelong member of the Heinyaa Kwaan dance group based in Klawock. She is also part of the Polynesian Voyaging Society where she crewed on a leg of Mālama Honua, a worldwide voyage completed in 2017.

She earned her master’s degree from University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in Rural Development, focused on Fisheries Development in Rural Alaska. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Rural Economic Development, as well as an associate’s degree in Tribal Management from UAF. She also has a certificate in Tribal Governmental Business Law from Seattle University.

‘Wáahlaal Gidaag most recently served as director of Native and Rural Affairs for the Governor and Lt. Governor of the State of Alaska. Prior to that, she served as Government Affairs Liaison for Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and Assistant Professor for UAF Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development. In addition, ‘Wáahlaal Gidaag has worked as the Technical Assistant Specialist for Intertribal Agriculture Council and Program Assistant in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Office of Tribal Relations. She participated in our 2017 First Nations’ Futures Program Fellowship and received the First Alaskans Institute Young Native Leader award at our 2018 Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala. She is also an alum of our Public Policy Fellowship program where she served in the office of Senator Kookesh. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Sealaska Corporation, the first descendant shareholder to hold such a position.

Hear how to pronounce ‘Wáahlaal Gidaag.