BSNC shareholder Esther Koezuna serves as the corporation’s Anchorage office receptionist. In addition to serving as the first individual people interact with at BSNC, Koezuna is a traditional culture-bearer. She grew up in the King Island community of Nome and today, regularly shares her traditional knowledge with summer interns and recently, in BSNC’s new cultural series titled Mazzaq Tigittuaq, Inupiaq for “sunrise.”
Koezuna is a member of the King Island Dancers of Anchorage. She is also a talented artist who creates oogithgaak (kuspuks), yo-yo’s, dolls, Native jewelry, parkas and mukluks. She learned Inupiaq King Island dancing and artistry from her grandmother.
““I was shy and did not want to dance. I went to spend time with my grandmother who told me, “You have to learn how to dance – nobody else is going to carry it on.” I encourage my girls and grandkids to learn how to dance. My grandkids are shy but are learning how to dance at home.””
While attending West Valley High in Fairbanks, her grandmother would send her sealskin and she would make slippers to sell to earn income. Upon graduating from high school, she attended trade school in Anchorage and earned an accounting certificate. She worked in Nome as an assistant manager for Alaska Commercial Company, at the Alaska Native Heritage Center as an artist and receptionist, at Norton Sound Health Corporation as an assistant receptionist and at Fairbanks City Hall as an assistant receptionist.
Koezuna rejoined BSNC’s Anchorage office in 2017 where she has one of the more challenging roles in the company. She regularly juggles multiple responsibilities, balancing a high volume of phone calls and questions with administrative work. A part of her position also includes serving to safeguard BSNC from phishing and scam attempts. She previously worked for BSNC between 1999-2003 in the Anchorage Office Park building when there were only seven employees. Now, BSNC’s Anchorage office has more than 100 employees.
Koezuna’s favorite part of serving as BSNC’s Anchorage receptionist is greeting shareholders and sharing her cultural knowledge with BSNC’s summer interns. In her spare time, Koezuna loves berry-picking and fishing, particularly during the traditional harvesting time of late July to late August.
An Athabascan Elder once told her, “You have a bachelor’s degree in your culture. Don’t ever let anyone put you down for not having an academic degree.”