About Us

Calista Elders Council

The Calista Elders Council (CEC) is a non-profit organization representing the 1,300 Yup'ik tradition bearers of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in southwest Alaska. It is the major research organization for the region, including a population of more than 23,000, and is active in documenting the traditional knowledge of the Yup'ik people.

CEC was established in 1991 by Calista (the profit corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta). Mark John became executive director in 1997. Under John's leadership, guided by a nine-member board of elders, the CEC developed a program to address cultural issues, including rapid loss of traditional knowledge.

The plan includes:

  1. Elders and youth conventions
  2. Yearly culture camps
  3. Yupiit Yuraryarait (Yup'ik Ways of Dancing) region-wide festival held every three years
  4. Small, topic-specific gatherings with elders to document traditional knowledge
  5. Production of books and maps to make the information elders have shared more available. These documentation efforts have been supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arctic Social Science Program as well as NSF's BEST (Bering Ecosystem Study) Program, and have resulted in ten major publications as well as many public presentations.

CEC Board of Elders

Name Position Community

Moses Paukan

Sr. Vice Chairman

St. Marys

Martin Moore

Sr. Secretary


Nick Andrew

Sr. Treasurer


John Phillip

Sr. Member


Paul John


Toksook Bay

Bob Aloysius




CEC Staff

Mark JohnMARK JOHN is the Executive Director of the Calista Elders Council (CEC). He is originally from Toksook Bay, the son of Paul and Martina John, and has proved himself a galvanizing force in the revival of the CEC. He is well known and respected throughout the region as a commercial fisherman, active subsistence hunter, and fluent speaker of the Yup'ik language. Receiving his BSW and MSW from the University of Alaska, he is also a gifted leader and administrator, and has worked slowly and carefully to begin to realize CEC's potential.

Mark John has the respect of the CEC board of directors, and he in turn respects their role as the tradition bearers whose knowledge and vision it is his job to help communicate.


Valedictorian, St. Mary's High School, St. Mary's, AK, 1974
BA in Social Work, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1993
MA in Social Work, University of Alaska Anchorage, 1997


Alice Aluskak ReardenALICE ALUSKAK REARDEN from Napakiak, Alaska graduated with a BA in history from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2000. Since then, Alice has worked in collaboration with Ann Fienup-Riordan, Marie Meade, and the Calista Elders Council, where she has served as primary translator and oral historian for more than ten years. She is a fluent Yup'ik speaker committed to working with regional tradition bearers to gather, translate, and share their knowledge.

Her first bilingual book relating to family values was Yupiit Qanruyutait/Yup'ik Words of Wisdom. In 2008 she received both the Museums Alaska Award for Excellence and the Bridge Builders Community Service Award in recognition of her outstanding and important work.


Mt. Edgecumbe High School, 1996
BA in History, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2000


Ann Fienup-RiordanANN FIENUP-RIORDAN is a cultural anthropologist who has lived and worked in Alaska since 1973. Her books include The Nelson Island Eskimo (1983), Eskimo Essays (1990), Boundaries and Passages (1994), The Living Tradition of Yup'ik Masks (1996), and Wise Words of the Yup'ik People: We Talk to You because We Love You (2005). In 2000, she received the Alaska Federation of Natives President's Award for her work with Alaska Natives, and in 2001 the Governor's Award for Distinguished Humanist Educator.

Between 1994 and 1996 she worked with the Anchorage Museum and the Coastal Yukon Mayors Association curating the Yup'ik mask exhibit Agayuliyararput/Our Way of Making Prayer. From 1997 through 1999 she worked with Yup'ik elders exploring museum collections in an NSF-sponsored project entitled Elders in Museums: Fieldwork Turned on Its Head. At present she works with the Calista Elders Council helping to document Yup'ik traditional knowledge.


BA Religious Studies, University of Michigan, 1971
MA Cultural Anthropology, University of Michigan, 1973
PhD Cultural Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1980


Contact Us

For more information

Mark John, CEC Executive Director at mjohn@calistacorp.com
Alice Rearden, CEC Oral Historian alicerearden@hotmail.com
Ann Fienup-Riordan, CEC Anthropologist at riordan@alaska.net

Mailing address

Calista Elders Council
301 Calista Court, Suite A
Anchorage, Alaska 99518