Our Students

Students are one of the Department of Tribal Governance’s greatest assets. The knowledge, skills, and experience each individual brings to our classrooms produce an invaluable learning environment. 

Tribal Governance students come from all corners of Alaska. They bring with them their place-based knowledge and experience from living on the land, serving as Tribal Administrators, leading on their Tribal Councils, or interacting with policymakers. 


Students in Action!

The UAF Tribal Governance Introduction to Board of Game Class, held in partnership with Tanana Chiefs Conference, pauses for a photo during their appearance at the Board of Game statewide meeting in Anchorage on November 11, 2017. 

Read more about the “Introduction to the Board of Game” course and their appearance at the Board of Game statewide meeting in the Juneau Empire article, “Board of Game forum spurs unlikely accord.” Thanks to Tribal Governance students, the proposals to ban existing traditional bear hunting practices and remove exceptions failed in a unanimous board vote.

photograph of the UAF Tribal Governance Introduction to Board of Game Class, held in partnership with Tanana Chiefs Conference, during Board of Game statewide meeting in Anchorage on November 11, 2017.
(Courtesy Photo | Carrie Stevens)

Graduate Highlights


'Wáahlaal Gidáak - Barbara Blake

Barbara Blake currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Lt. Governor of the State of Alaska. 'Wáahlaal Gidáak (Barbara) is of Haida, Tlingit and Ahtna Athabascan descent and belongs to the Káat nay-st/Yahkw ’Láanaas (Shark House/Middle Town People). She is the mother of an inspiring young man, Nathaniel Blake. She received her Master’s degree from UAF in Rural Development focusing her thesis on Fisheries Development in Rural Alaska. She received her undergraduate degree(s) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a BA in Rural Economic Development and an AA in Tribal Management. She holds a certificate in Tribal Governmental Business Law from Seattle University. She formerly served as Government Affairs Liaison for The Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and also Assistant Professor for the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In addition, Barbara 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 has held internships/fellowships as an Obama Organizing Fellow; First Alaskans Institute Public Policy Legislative Fellow; Washington Internship for Native Students Intern; Sealaska Corporation; Alyeska Pipeline; and Ahtna Incorporated. She also served as Board Youth Advisor for Sealaska Corporation. She is a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Native Emerging Leaders Forum, Polynesian Voyage Society and the Heinyaa Kwaan Dancers.


Chief Rhonda Pitka
Chief Rhonda Pitka

Rhonda Pitka, Beaver Village Council, has served as the First Chief of the Beaver Village Council in Alaska since 2011. Prior to her tenure as First Chief, she was a Tribal Administrator of the Beaver Village Council.


Kathryn Martin

“The Tribal Governance program has prepared me to understand how tribal, state, and federal governments work and what powers they have. It has also given me an appreciation for tribal governments and the issues they have to work with.

My AA degree in Tribal Governance allowed me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Rural Development. I started out as a Tribal Administrator and now I work for our people through Ahtna, Inc. If you have a passion to work for your people, I highly recommend this program.”

A Mentasta Tribal Member, Kathryn is a member of the ‘Ałts’e’tnaey (One Way People) clan and the mother of six children. Kathryn began working for Ahtna in 2005 as Vice President of Land & Resources. She became Senior Vice President in 2013 and has served on Ahtna’s Board of Directors. Kathryn previously held the role as Tribal Administrator for the Mentasta Traditional Council.

Kathryn holds an Associate of Arts in Tribal Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Rural Development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

With a demonstrated commitment to culture and tradition, Kathryn was named the Copper River Native Association Board Member of the Year in 1994. Additional accolades include the Alaska Legislator Award in 2004 and recognition in 2009 from the Bureau of Land Management for her efforts in addressing complicated land management issues within the Ahtna Region. In 2010-2011, she received acknowledgment from the University of Alaska Fairbanks for outstanding scholastic achievement.


Hear from our students!


The Tribal Governance program has helped me grow into my role as First Chief of Circle. No longer do I feel like I am struggling or blindly trying to figure stuff out. The skills you learn in the program immediately improve your performance in the job you have now.Jessica Fields
The Tribal Governance program bridges the gap between your cultural identity and traditional wisdom from the elders and the tools that tribes have for self-governance. These classes teach you how to use federal Indian law to your tribe’s advantage.Randy A. Mayo
Give the Tribal Governance program your all. Be dedicated and let it be fun. Make what you learn applicable to your life and home. These classes are especially beneficial if you are living in a rural community and if you attend meetings or just follow tribal politics.Roxanne Knudson
If you want to work and improve your community, then get involved with the Tribal Governance program. It's very fulfilling and challenging.Kathryn Martin
I hope to use my knowledge from the Tribal Governance program to help guide others my age that are also struggling to seek help and find college classes to get through their life struggles. I advise everyone to keep pursuing the educational dream until you are content with where you want to go in life. Roselie Carroll

Image at top: UAF graduate walks in UAF's commencement ceremony May 11, 2014 in the Carlson Center. University of Alaska Fairbanks, GRA-14-4186-0723.jpg.