Tlingit Entrepreneur Wins Miss Alaska USA Title


Posted By Toyacoyah Brown February 16th, 2017 Blog


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Business smarts, beauty and a love for her culture? Why wouldn't she win the Miss Alaska USA title!

Alyssa London, a Tlingit woman and Stanford University graduate, will represent Alaska on the national stage when ladies from all over the country compete for the Miss USA title this summer.

In an interview with KCAW News, she talks about Tlingit background.


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London identifies as Tlingit, but she says that hasn’t always be easy. Her background is mixed, with European descent on her mother’s side and a father who is only part Tlingit. Growing up, London says she often questioned her grandfather about her Native heritage.

“So I’m like, ‘Grandpa, why don’t I look like you?’ And he says, ‘You’re my little freckled Indian,’ and then he’ll take me to the Pioneer Cafe in Ketchikan and point out the Irish Aleuts or the Norwegian Yup’iks and he’s like, ‘See, we’re all mixed!’” London said.

London’s grandfather is Tlingit elder and Ketchikan native Ernie Boyd.

Also in the KCAW interview, she talks about her experience working with Microsoft and how a particular moment inspired her to start her own business.

After college London landed a job at Microsoft. The company sends out gifts to its corporate partners across the world and one gift in particular got London thinking.

“I was noticing that the purchase orders were for these ‘Made in Washington’ baskets called ‘the Northwest Native gift baskets,’ and so I looked it up online and saw what was in it. There was a little bit of salmon and popcorn, but I felt conflicted that it had that name and I knew the reason they were purchasing it, but there was a disconnect,” said London.

So, London set out to make her own baskets, and in the process moved to Alaska and built a business.

She calls it “Culture Story.” Right now she’s sells her own products like the Southeast Alaska Native Giftboxes she makes out of cedar and overlays with Tlingit designs cut from copper.

Here London talks more about Culture Story

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Wow, such a busy and inspiring woman! We wish her all the luck this summer! I know you will represent Alaska and your culture very well.

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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