Staff Story: Sandra Palmer

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A Day To Remember

Sandra Palmer in AHFC’s Executive Office and her family have many reasons to celebrate throughout the year.

But February 18 is special. It’s Rita Pitka Blumenstein Day.

Celebrating Traditional Medicine

Rita is Sandra’s mom, and she has had her special day since 2006 when her birthplace the Village of Tununak created a day celebrating Rita’s work as a traditional healer.

Rita's legend goes far beyond the Yup’ik community. She is one of the 13 indigenous grandmothers with a life-long passion for education. Rita’s basket weaving and skin sewing have taken her places throughout the state and beyond. 

Honoring Rita's Work

One of Rita's baskets is permanently featured in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, and she has made bell ornaments out of grass for the traditional Christmas tree in the White House.

In 2009 she was inducted in the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.


AHFC is featuring our employees as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration. Click here to find more staff stories!