SITKA TRADITION – Ricky Jarvill, Blatchley Pool manager, and Emma Edson of Alaska Marine Safety Education Association help third-grade students walk out of the water at the Crescent Harbor boat ramp Thursday. The entire third grade learned about cold water survival in the program coordinated by Jarvill and AMSEA. The Sitka School District has been sponsoring the program long enough, more than 30 years, that some parents on Thursday recalled their own third-grade survival experiences. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Services for Selina Everson To be Held in Sitka, Juneau

Selina Everson

Selina Everson, born to George and Fannie James, September 14, 1928, in Angoon, passed away at her home in Juneau on April 9, 2019, surrounded by family.

She was born with the name Kaséix and later given her mother’s name Aan shaawaatki’. She was Deisheetaan from Angoon and at the time of her passing was the eldest of the Yeil Hit (Raven House).

Selina was the youngest of 12 children and she and her siblings attended Sheldon Jackson High School boarding school. She graduated in 1947.

The night Selina and Murlin “Mike” Everson met in Sitka, he told her, “You are the woman I’m going to marry!” They married in Sitka  May 12, 1962, and the family eventually settled in Juneau.

Selina worked many years as a waitress, most notably at the (former) Latchstring Restaurant in the Baranof Hotel, and developed a rapport with legislators. She decided on a career change and enrolled in office skills courses. Afterwards, she worked for the State of Alaska; advanced to a supervisory position; and later enjoyed working for former Gov. Jay Hammond.

In 1982, Mike and Selina relocated to Seattle where she became active in the Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS). She helped found ANS Camp No. 83 Seattle, following in the footsteps of her mother, Fannie James, who was a founding member of Angoon Camp No. 7.

Selina attended the 1983 Grand Camp and that year was elected ANS Grand Secretary. She continued to advance through the ranks of ANS Grand offices, serving as Grand President three different terms. She was a lifetime and active member of Juneau Camp No. 70; served as Camp Council; and later was on the Executive Committee, comprised of former ANS Grand Presidents.

In her early years, Selina was a shy, quiet and retiring person, but grew into a noted public speaker with Mike’s loving encouragement and support. She helped champion education, Native rights, and subsistence issues during her years of work with ANS. She testified before the Alaska Legislature numerous times, advocating for the aforementioned interests which she held dear to her heart. If it involved Alaska Native people, she spoke about it.

Selina was also involved in the Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council, served as a T&H delegate at the annual General Assembly, and sat on many of the Council’s committees.

When Selina entered school, children were forbidden to speak their Native language. Later in life, she loved working at Harborview Elementary School as a Tlingit Language Elder until her health prevented self-mobility. She mentored and appreciated Tlingit language teachers.

“I feel I’ve come full circle in my life – from forbidden to speak my first language in boarding school to helping teach the basics of the Tlingit language in today’s schools,” Selina once said.

She was known as “Grandma Selina” to Harborview School children. Her adult children remarked that in public, children would greet her with hugs and smiles, and cries of “Grandma!” She always made time to hug and speak with the many “grandchildren” and their parents. 

Selina said in her efforts at Harborview School, she felt gratified knowing she helped sustain Tlingit language and culture.

She also was involved in the Tlingit Immersion programs sponsored by Sealaska Heritage Institute, Goldbelt Inc.’s efforts to perpetuate Native languages; sat on Native education committees; and received the Elizabeth Peratrovich ANS Citizenship Award and the Juneau Indian Studies Parent Committee Award, “Because We Cherish You” for her work with children in the Juneau School District.

She was recipient of the AWARE Woman of Distinction Award, and served on Tlingit and Haida Central Council’s Foster Care Task Force.

Selina mentored young ANS women and had a strong commitment to work to advance the causes of Alaska Natives. She testified before the Legislature about the need for funding of education programs and benefits of Native languages in the  schools, and the high Alaska Native dropout rate.

She was a member of the Northern Light United Church; the Tlingit Gospel Singers (revitalization of the Tlingit language with song); was a Presbytery Delegate; and served as Juneau’s Grand Marshal in the 2017 Fourth of July parade.

With dignity and poise, Selina stood up for what was right and for many people who felt they did not have a voice, and championed Native rights. She deeply loved her family, language, and culture.

Selina adopted U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and bestowed her with an honored Tlingit family name, Aan shaawaatki’ (Lady of the Land) from Yeil Hit (Raven House) of the Deisheetaan Clan of Angoon. On the Senate Floor, Thursday, April 11, Murkowski graciously acknowledged her adoption, Selina’s language and cultural work, and her April 9, 2019 passing.

Selina is survived by her children Donelle Everson (Dermott Howard), Catrina (Duff) Mitchell, Patricia Everson, Mark Everson, Michael (JoAnn) Everson, Joe (Sharon) Zuboff, and Thea (Dan) Brown; cousin Bill (Mona) Johnson; Tribal adopted daughter Pat Walker; brother-in-law Merton Everson; grandchildren Erica, James, and Alexa Elisoff; and Reece Satran, Cameron and Kyler Mitchell.

Many great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews also survive.

She was preceded in death by her husband Murlin Everson; parents George and Fannie James; brothers Robert (Helene) James, Kenneth (Marie) James, Harry James and James “Jim” Klushkan; sister Helen (Cyril) Zuboff; grandson Ryan Elisoff; and “son-out-law” Calvin Crawford.

A Juneau memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Northern Light United Church, 400 W. 11th Street, Juneau, followed by light refreshments. The memorial will be live-streamed HYPERLINK https://nluchurch.org. Look for the Selina Everson Memorial Service on their home page.

 

At 2 p.m. May 10 a graveside service will be held at Sitka National Cemetery, where she will be interred with her husband.

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