FAIRBANKS—Revered Alaska Native elder Poldine Carlo, a co-founder of the Fairbanks Native Association, has died at age 97.
“It is with great sadness that we inform our community of the passing of our founding member and Elder representative, Poldine Carlo,” reads a notice on the Fairbanks Native Association website. “As you know, Poldine was an honored member of our organization and the community that FNA serves.
“She will be sorely missed, yet the contributions she made in her lifetime will never be forgotten,” the notice reads. “Poldine would want you all to know that she lived a good life.”
Carlo was raised along the Yukon River in the early 1900s. She was orphaned as a child and later raised eight children of her own.
She was raised by her grandparents, two of the most powerful medicine people along the Yukon River, after the death of her parents, James Demoski and Priscilla Stickman Demoski, according to her book, “Nulato: An Indian Life on the Yukon.”
Carlo met her husband, Bill Carlo, when she was a young woman working at a government-run hospital in Tanana. The couple eventually moved to Fairbanks.
When the couple first moved to Fairbanks, Carlo said in a 2017 interview with the Daily News-Miner, Alaska Natives were not always welcome at businesses and in some organizations.
It was from that experience that, one night in the 1960s, the idea of a place for Alaska Natives to gather was born. She said helping to start the Fairbanks Native Association was her proudest achievement.
FNA has grown in the decades since its founding to become a multimillion-dollar nonprofit providing numerous services, including behavioral health, Head Start and an educational program for young Alaska Natives in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Carlo has received several honors over the years, including an honorary doctorate of law degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Hannah Paul Solomon “Woman of Courage” award from the Alaska Federation of Natives, a BP Golden Citizen Chieftain honor and recognition as a Farthest North Girl Scout Council Woman of Distinction.
Contact Editor Rod Boyce at 459-7585. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMeditor.