Michelle Ravenmoon |Pope Vannoy
Summer Program Director, Igiugig Village Council Engagement Partnership
Michelle Ravenmoon’s home overlooks a creek where salmon fry are born and migrate via Lake Iliamna. Her family has harvested salmon for thousands of years in this region, and the knowledge that has passed down for generations illuminates the fact that salmon are the key to the successful continuation of her people. “Salmon are sacred to me,” she reflects. “They are part of my way of life, they are my sustenance, and they are the enrichment to the land on which I live.”
Ravenmoon, who holds a bachelor's degree in Rural Development- Community Research and Cultural Documentation from University of Alaska Fairbanks and an associates degree in Early Childhood Education from University of Alaska Anchorage, works as the Summer Cultural Program Director for Igiugig Village Council remotely from her home of Pope Vannoy. Prior to her current role, she worked at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, and to promote the National Park Service among Alaska Natives and American Indians. She has also served as a subsistence coordinator in rural Alaska and as a Dena’ina language instructor.
Ravenmoon is described as one of those rare people who can bridge gaps in understanding between diverse groups of people with wildly different ways of life and world views. She is an excellent listener, deep thinker, and thoughtful in her responses, particularly when addressing sensitive topics of race, urban-rural conflicts, and how to balance the economic needs of Alaskans with the desire to conserve its wild country and the ways of life that the land provides.
“I like the idea of identifying the root of the problem and then systematically going through steps to figure out how to change it,” explains Ravenmoon. “I am also interested in the process of systems change such as collaboration, networking, identifying the players, and mapping the system. I am particularly interested in living systems, especially the influence salmon have on our environment. Moreover, how much a place such as my home of Bristol Bay is ecologically impacted by the natural cycles of salmon.”
She is excited by the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of salmon through her participation in Alaska Salmon Fellows. “Salmon are important to the people of my region, they are important to maintain an ecologically balanced environment, and salmon are important for a self-sustaining system that has been operating for thousands of years. I plan on sharing my knowledge of salmon and their importance and listening to the knowledge my peers will share to create a positive systems change for salmon.”