Proud of Her Heritage
August 1998

“Proud of Her Heritage,” Ensign, Aug. 1998, 69

Proud of Her Heritage

Andrea (Andi) Jack of Fairbanks, Alaska, has long felt the importance of educating others about her Native American culture. Of Tlingit Indian and Yupik Eskimo heritage, she has performed traditional dances and spoken to school and civic groups, worked as a tour guide at a simulated Indian village, and served as a tutor and mentor to Native American children in elementary school.

In 1996 Andi was chosen as Miss Indian World, and in that capacity she served as an ambassador for native peoples in the United States and Canada. A lifelong member of the Church, she knew that she represented not only Native Americans and Alaska but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well. “I’m so glad I didn’t miss that opportunity,” she says. “Even though it was tiring at times, every event was special to me.” Her favorite duties included teaching young people traditional Yupik dances and marching in the 1997 United States presidential inauguration parade.

For two years Andi worked as a liaison between Native American children and the Alaska school system. She served as a role model for children and helped them with classwork, organized cultural activities, and monitored their school attendance. “That experience led to my decision to become a teacher,” she says. She graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks last May and will start teaching first grade in the Anchorage School District this month. “All children deserve a teacher who loves and respects each of them individually and who is someone they can look up to,” she says. “A teacher can touch the lives of her students forever.” She also plans to be a reserve law enforcement officer.

Andi is the Young Women Laurel adviser in the Anchorage 18th Ward, Anchorage Alaska North Stake.—Elizabeth K. Ritchie, Fairbanks, Alaska