The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood installed their new officers last month at the ANB/ANS Hall.
Husband and wife team Raymond Dennis Jr. and Leslie Dennis will lead the two organizations that have donated to scholarships and school programs and participated in community events and fundraisers.
"This is something very new for me," Leslie Dennis said after being sworn in as ANS president. "I have great honor in being elected to this position, and I look forward to working with everybody. I would like to focus on family-based activities and outings that will encourage membership growth and also community togetherness."
Raymond Dennis Jr. is back for another term as ANB president.
The groups welcomed four new members.
"It is my pledge to make this hall filled with our community, and I am asking you to help join to do that," Raymond Dennis Jr. said.
One of his goals as president is to host a healing ceremony next summer.
"There was a strong cultural continuity, and it got disrupted when a very large epidemic ran through this area, as well as throughout the world, and started taking a lot of our people from amongst us," he said. "This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time, and that is to begin the healing process that our people and our land need. I am proposing that by August, that we have a healing ceremony for this community."
Also at the December event, ANS past president Marilyn Wilson honored lifetime member Barbara Lewis, who was unable to attend due to health reasons. Lewis moved to Sitka this week. Wilson said Lewis had earned the title of "Camp Auntie."
"This is something new that I don’t think any camp in Southeast or anywhere has ever done, so she’s got the first title of Camp Auntie," Wilson said. "Aunties in the Tlingit culture are usually the teachers and the guides, and help the nieces that they train to do well and to learn the good way."
Wilson’s daughter LaVerne Bryant said the ANB and ANS "always played a part in my life," and credited longtime members for their support.
"What you do here today is history, and what you will do after today will be just as important as what has been built in the past," Bryant said.
The new officers are Raymond Dennis Jr., president; Thomas Williams Jr., vice president; Bob Duis, secretary; Lee Heinmiller, treasurer; Mark Cozzi, sergeant-at-arms; and Charlie Jimmie and Al Morgan, camp council; for the ANB; and Leslie Dennis, president; Marilyn Wilson, vice president; Libby Kurz, secretary; Carol Duis, treasurer; Peggy Ormasen and Lowana Drurey, sergeant-at-arms; and Georgiana Hotch, Carol Lawrence and LaVerne Bryant, camp council; for the ANS. Cecilia David is ANS Camp Mother and Barbara Lewis is Camp Auntie.