Keynote Speakers

Liz Medicine Crow, Haida/Tlingit, is from Keex Kwaan (Kake), Alaska.   On her Haida side she is Eagle Tiits Gitee Nei, Hummingbird.  On her Tlingit side she is Raven Kaach.adi, Fresh Water-marked Sockeye Salmon.    Her maternal grandparents were Mona & Thomas Jackson, Sr. of Kake, her paternal grandparents were Lillian and Charles Cheney of Washington.  Her parents are Della and William Cheney of Kake.  Her husband, Cloud Medicine Crow, Hidatsa, is a contemporary American Indian artist.  Although she works in Anchorage, Liz’s heart is always at home in the village with her family and people.

Integrating Native knowledge and values into organizations, governance mechanisms, and everyday life is a primary passion and responsibility she has pursued through her education and career.  Liz received her BA (BFA Equivalency) from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and her professional degree from Arizona State University College of Law, graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree and a Certificate in Indian Law.  Since coming to First Alaskans Institute, Liz has served as the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center, Vice-President, and now serves as the President/CEO, providing a direct link for her to be of service to our Native peoples.

 Dr. Thomas Swensen,

Born and raised in Kodiak, Thomas Swensen graduated from S.A.V.E. II secondary school in Anchorage and earned a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an original shareholder in Koniag and Leisnoi as well as a member of Tangirnaq Native Village. He serves on the board of directors of the Koniag Education Foundation and is an assistant professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah as well as currently being the 2017-18 Katrin H. Lamon Fellowship Residential Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.