BOX OF TREASURES – Haida artist Holly Churchill, of Ketchikan, shows Sitka High School senior Myles Magie a weaving technique on a cedar bark basket Wednesday in the Sitka High art room. Churchill finished a three-week residency today sponsored by the Sitka School District and Sealaska Heritage Institute's Sharing Our Box of Treasures" program. Her residency included work in the high school's new dual-credit program with UAS, the Northwest Coast Arts class, and sessions with Blatchley Middle School and the Sitka Native Education Program Culture Class. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Irene Dorothy Roberts

Memorial and funeral services for Irene Dorothy Roberts will be held on Thursday, April 5, 2012.

The Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 4 will conduct a memorial service at 11 a.m. at the ANB Hall. The funeral will be held at the Presbyterian Church at noon with Pastor Diane Wonnenberg officiating with a graveside service immediately afterward at Sitka National Cemetery gazebo. Following the graveside service, the family invites friends of the family to a dinner at the ANB Hall at 5 p.m.
Irene died on Saturday, March 31, at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital with her family by her side. She had just celebrated her 86th birthday.
She was born Feb. 28, 1926, in Juneau to Mary (Young) Sutton, a Tlingit, and William Sutton, Nisga’a from British Columbia, Canada. She was Yanyeidi, (Eagle/Wolf) moiety, of the Taku River Tlingit. Her Tlingit name is Jigeiti.
She married James Roberts, who was from Parma, Idaho, and they made their home in Sitka/Mt. Edgecumbe where they raised their eight children. Irene grew up in Juneau but she spent more than 70 years of her life in Sitka/Mt. Edgecumbe. 
Irene was an active member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Tlingit and Haida Central Council. She served as a Tlingit and Haida delegate and a representative at ANB/ANS Conventions for many years. Irene was a member of the Noow Tlein Dancers, and represented the Sitka Tribes of Alaska as a member of the Naa Kahídi dance group.
One of the Noow Tlein dancers, Lillian Young, shared her memories:  “Irene Roberts was a faithful member of the Noow Tlein Dancers for many years. She is known as one of our precious ‘kaaxoos yi shaawu’ (singers on the side). After many years of being an enthusiastic dancer for the group, she was resistant to have to sit during our performances because of her knees, but it didn’t slow her down much, still moving to the beat of the drum in her seat and often dancing out on our exit song.
“She also dedicated many ‘pink frosted’ Easter breads to the group’s yearly Easter bread sales. The group is saddened at the loss of Irene and will miss her happy disposition with a ready smile and hug.”
Among the many things that Irene enjoyed were beading necklaces and earrings, making moccasins and octopus bags, and traveling, especially enjoying going to Canada to visit her Nisga’a relatives. She also enjoyed her Alaska Native food including hooligan grease from Canada, herring eggs, boiled salmon and seaweed, picking berries with her family, and baking Easter bread and blueberry and banana crème pies.
Irene is survived by her eight children, James Roberts, Alice Swaim, Andrew Roberts, Marilyn Doyle, Mary Barragan, John Roberts, Doreen Marics, and Michael Roberts; 16 grandchildren, Greg Swaim, Jennifer Swaim, Amber (Swaim) Brown; Brian Roberts, David Doyle; Jason Bartels (deceased), Steven Bartels, Kristin Bartels, Erica Barragan, James Barragan, Christopher Barragan; Kory King; Mandy Roberts, Jamie Roberts, John Roberts Jr., and Ann Marie Johnson.
Nine great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews of Sitka and Juneau, and relatives from Canada also survive. She is also survived by her dear cousin, Dorothy Coronell of Juneau.
Her children are honored that Sitka Tribe of Alaska selected their mother, Irene Roberts, as Tribal Citizen of the Year on Jan. 21, 2012. 
Pallbearers include  Brian Roberts, David Doyle, Steven Bartels, Christopher Barragan, James Barragan, Rocky Eddy, John Roberts Jr., Michael Baines and Robbie Baines.
Honorary pallbearers are Isabella Brady, Grace Larsen, William Kanosh, Ethel Makinen, Harriet Beleal and Dorothy Coronell.
In lieu of flowers or contributions, friends are asked to contact John Roberts at P.O. Box 503 Sitka, AK 99835 or 738-0591.

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