Days Until Parade

2017 Theme: "Our Heritage"


Selina James Everson was born to George and Fannie James in a fish camp across from the village of Angoon, Alaska. She was the youngest of 12 children, of which only six survived to adulthood. Selina and her siblings were sent to Sheldon Jackson High School (SJ) boarding school, from which she graduated in 1947. From early childhood, once she entered the education system, Selina was forbidden to speak her first language, Tlingit. Children were disciplined for lapsing into the Tlingit language. Selina recalls going home from SJ during the holidays and summer vacation and the confusion and difficulty in transitioning from English to Tlingit, because her parents spoke only Tlingit at home.

In 1962 Selina met and married Murlin "Mike" Everson. The family lived in various towns in Southeast Alaska during the early years of their marriage, and settled in Juneau in 1968, and raised their five children. After working as a waitress for many years, Selina decided to take office skills courses and an English course to brush up her writing and communication skills, which would enable her to make a career change to the clerical field. Selina eventually worked as the receptionist in the Governor's Office during Jay Hammond's administration. She met and conversed with many Alaska's legislators, building a network that would serve her in good stead later.

In 1982, Selina and Mike moved to Seattle, Washington and Selina became active in the Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS), helping to found ANS Camp #83 in Seattle. She was a Grand Camp Convention delegate in 1983, and was elected to the office of ANS Grand Secretary that year. She continued to advance through the ranks of the ANS Grand Offices from that point; serving as ANS Grand President three different terms.

Selina now works for the Juneau Indian Studies Program at Harborview Elementary School, as a Tlingit Language Elder, to teach the Tlingit language to the children. Her formative years in which she was forbidden to speak Tlingit at school has brought her full circle, as she now teaches Native children to speak their language in an elementary school. She is known as "Grandma Selina" to children at Harborview School; and her children have remarked that when Selina is out in public, there are many children who coming running to Selina for a hug--she always has time to hug and talk to her many "grandchildren" and their parents that she has come to know and love these past years. Selina was featured in the February 4, 2008, Juneau Empire article entitled Tlingit Classes Draw Outside Interest; about the Tlingit classes at Harborview School. Selina feels the work is very satisfying and fulfilling. She is modest and often says that in her own efforts she feels gratified knowing that she is helping to sustain her Tlingit language and culture.

Se lina has been involved in the Tlingit Immersion programs sponsored by the Sealaska Heritage Institute; works on cultural preservation and Native education committees, and has been approached by various political candidates for information, feedback, and an introduction into the Native Community. Selina was honored on February 16, 2002, to receive the Elizabeth Peratrovich ANS Citizenship Award. The Juneau Indian Studies Parent Committee also honored Selina with their "Because We Cherish You" award for her work with the children in the Juneau School District in May 2008.

Selina is still very active in the community through her involvement with the ANS, Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council, and her work with the Juneau Indian Studies Program at Harborview School. She continues her work with children and the Tlingit language preservation in the Juneau School District. She is helping to preserve the Tlingit culture through her work in the elementary schools by teaching our youngest generation to have pride in their Tlingit language and culture. Selina has overcome many obstacles from her childhood: punished for speaking her Native language, living in a world (at that time) of overt racism, her fear of public speaking; and rose above these negative life experiences, to be a voice for her people. She advocates women's assertiveness by example, speaking out and championing issues that concern her and that she cares for deeply. She stands up for what is right and for the many people who feel they do not have a voice or the courage to speak for themselves.