MAY 31, 2019


Born in 1915 near Slana, Alaska, Katie grew up in Baltzulneta.  She learned English at age 14.  Marrying and moving to Mentasta in 1932, she helped create the 1st Ahtna Athabascan written alphabet and recorded pronunciation guides.  Katie, however, is famous for winning subsistence rights for Alaska’s Native peoples.  In 1984, she and Doris Charles requested Alaska to permit subsistence fishing.  The State’s rejection led to the lengthy “Katie John case” in 1985 which ultimately led to State recognition & Federal protection of Native subsistence rights.  After meeting with Katie, Governor Knowles decided not to appeal.  In 2011, University of Alaska Fairbanks awarded her an honorary doctorate in laws.  Katie John died on May 31, 2013.  The Alaska Federation of Natives renamed its “Hunter and Gathers Award” the “Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award.”  She was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014.  On May 30, 2019, Governor Mike Dunleavey signed legislation marking May 31st as “Katie John Day.”

Source:  “Katie John,” Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.  Retrieved, 7/3/2020,
Photo:  Courtesy of the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.