"Nakani" is a Tlingit word for a person or entity which serves as a connector and go-between for different people, places and cultures.
The Nakani Native Program was formed in 2017 after the American Friends Service Committee laid down its Northwest Indian Program. AFSC supported the former staff and committee members in forming a new nonprofit organization to carry on work grounded in the roots of sixty years of service to Pacific Northwest Native American communities.
Governed by a committee composed mostly of members of Native tribes, Nakani's priorities reflect the perceived needs of Native communities. We discern these through frequent contact and involvement with our partner organizations.
Esther "Little Dove" John identifies as African American and Native American. She was part of the American Friends Service Committee Northwest Indian Committee since 1999 during the Makah whaling dispute. She also served on the AFSC's Northwest Region and West Region Executive Committees. As a Quaker, Dove brings the values of peace, simplicity, integrity, community and equity to her work on the Nakani Native Committee.
Jonathan Betz-Zall identifies as Ashkenazi Jewish American. He was part of the American Friends Service Committee's Northwest Region Executive Committee, and is currently a member of the AFSC's Corporation, representing North Pacific Yearly Meeting. He was also a long-term volunteer with the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice and continues to build a justice-oriented version of "Ecotopia".
Ellany Kayce is an enrolled tribal member of the Tlingit Nation, Raven Clan. She’s worked as a cultural consultant, event planner, coordinator, facilitator, trainer, curriculum developer and fundraiser. Ellany has life-long experience working with Alaska Native, Native American, First Nations communities, and is a trainer, traditional drummer, singer, and dancer, and activist.
Ann Bates is an anthropologist with many years experience working with Native Americans.
Jeff Smith is an enrolled member of the Makah Tribe. He served as staff person for the American Friends Service Committee's Northwest Indian Program, where he built a strong support network for the Tribal Canoe Journey.