- At the 2016 NIEA Convention and Trade Show, Yatibaey Evans was sworn in as the first Alaska Native President of the National Indian Education Association.
Yatibaey Evans serves as the current director of the Title VI Program, Alaska Native
Education (ANE), in Fairbanks, Alaska and as an adjunct professor within the
Department of Alaska Native Studies at Rural Development for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ms. Evans' love for education came while working on her Master's thesis at Johns Hopkins University. While working with students at the elementary and secondary school level on addressing and identifying stereotypes of Native people, she was shocked to learn that many students had a hard time understanding that Native people could walk within both a traditional world and modern world. Of her experience she said, "We are the indigenous people of this land- we are still here, alive, and thriving. Sharing our history and our culture is an opportunity to build relationships and move forward in a positive way."
As a result of her work, President Evans has, and will continue to be, a powerful advocate for culture based education and will continue to support Native culture being implemented throughout the core content students learn in schools. When asked about what she hopes to help accomplish, President Evans emphasized that NIEA's top priority will be to ensure tribes engage in meaningful consultation with local education agencies. "For too long we have been marginalized, discounted, shunned, and assimilated. It's time for indigenous knowledge to be seen as important, valuable, and present in our school systems." Ms. Evans stressed the important work of the NIEA Board of Directors- secure the future of Native children.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without the work and sacrifices of my relatives and ancestors who came before me. The struggle they had to secure our basic rights was needed, the courage and strength they showed gives me the strength and courage to take this kind of leadership role. I am continuing that struggle so my children, and their children, are able to grow up in a world where Native people aren't invisible, they're celebrated. When Native peoples are respected and acknowledged in education systems, they'll be respected and acknowledged in policy and practice."
Ahniwake Rose, Executive Director of NIEA, said, "We are excited for the energy and enthusiasm that Yatibaey brings to her work to be brought to NIEA. Under her leadership, we know Native education has received a powerful, passionate, and dedicated advocate."
Before being voted onto the NIEA Board of Directors at the 2014 NIEA Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, Ms. Evans began her career in education as a reading tutor over 18 years ago, she then received her BA from the University of Washington before earning her Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University. In addition to serving NIEA, she is also on the Board of Directors for the United Way of the Tanana Valley. She resides in Fairbanks with her husband of 15 years and their four children. When she's not advocating for Native students, she enjoys spending time outside re-energizing.