The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala

Saturday, November 18, 7 p.m.

Hotel Captain Cook
Downtown Anchorage


This year’s theme was inspired by Sedna, the Mother of the Sea. Sedna is the creator of all sea creatures and goes by many names, such as Sassuma Arnaa, Arnaqquassaq, Arnakuagsak, Nerrivik, Nuliajuk. 

Many Sedna stories exist, from Yup'ik country up and over Alaska, stretching all the way across Canada to Greenland. Explore some of the stories below. 

Part Land, Part Water – Always Native: The Story of Sedna 

The land and water have nourished Alaska’s indigenous peoples for millennia. This relationship came into being with the story Sedna. While this legend may vary according to each storyteller, this much we know…

Sedna was a beautiful woman who lived long ago. One day, against her wishes, she married a man who turned out to be the trickster Raven. After escaping with her father’s help, Raven chased them across the ocean. During this struggle Sedna lost the fingers on one of her hands, and fell deep to the bottom of the sea. As she sunk, her fingers became the fish, seals, walruses and whales that have provided for our peoples’ ways of life ever since.

The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala pays tribute to two men who exemplify commitment to Alaska and the First Peoples of this land.  Their legacies provide a pathway for understanding the critical importance of indigenous ways of life, our connections across this great land and the role of our friendships in helping steward our Native peoples and Alaska into the next 10,000 years...  Please watch this video to learn more about the men this gala is proudly named after.



Indigenous Chef

Nikki Graham

Nikki Graham (Yup’ik, Blackfoot Indian and Dutch)

Originally from Homer, Nikki Graham is a lifelong Alaskan. Of Yup’ik, Blackfoot Indian and Dutch descent, she is also a Cook Inlet Region Incorporated (CIRI) shareholder. Nikki earned her Culinary Arts Associate’s degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, California. After graduation she gained invaluable experience working under one of California’s esteemed chefs. Today, Nikki has a passion for how food connects, bringing people together. As owner of Sleeping Lady Creations, she cooks for private events and is focused on locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients.

Nikki is also Employee Relations Manager for Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) where she helps provide opportunities to Alaska Native and American Indian peoples in the CIRI Region. In this role, she helps build and maintain the human resources department. Nikki is a champion of transformational change and an advocate for CITC staff. She contributes to the creation and implementation of innovative approaches to the communications, professional development and mentorship needed to advance employment and career development opportunities for Alaska Natives, American Indians and CITC employees. Nikki serves as Chair of the Alaska Native Professional Association, and has a passion for creating educational and professional development opportunities for young Alaska Native and American Indian leaders. 

Guest DJ

Celeste Worl

Celeste Worl (Tlingit)

Celeste Worl attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and graduated with a degree in 2-dimensional arts. Celeste is a painter based in Santa Fe, N.M. and has been working as a DJ for the past 10 years. She was the DJ for Sealaska Heritage Institute’s (SHI) first fashion show during Indian Market in Santa Fe in 2011, and more recently for SHI’s Native Fashion Show during Celebration 2016. In addition, she has performed for the past four Indian Market Haute Couture Fashion Shows in Santa Fe. Celeste also worked at the Tundra Times and was a co-founder of Alaska Native Magazine. 


Angela Cox

Angela Cox (Inupiaq)

Angela Cox is from Utqiaġvik, Alaska. She received her master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication. Angela joined the Rasmuson Foundation as Vice President of External Affairs in June 2017. She oversees communications, events and the foundation’s public policy work. Her past experience includes serving as Vice President of Administration at Arctic Slope Native Association, a nonprofit tribal health organization, and as Director of Foundation and Endowment Development for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Angela is currently a board member for The Alaska Community Foundation, The Foraker Group Operations Board, and the Ilisaġvik College Foundation.


Greg Bringhust

Greg Bringhurst (Athabascan)

Greg Bringhurst was born and raised in Fairbanks. He is of Koyukon Athabascan descent. His grandparents are the late Ruth (Mayo) and Shorty Thibedeau. His parents are John Bringhurst and the late Maxine Thibedeau.  

Greg is currently policy advisor for Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Washington, D.C., where he handles Native affairs, housing, small business, rural development and arctic issues. He is also on her staff for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. In this role, he works on issues he is passionate about, including youth, public safety, domestic violence and suicide prevention. Prior to working for Sen. Murkowski, he worked for the Interior Tribes with Tanana Chiefs Conference. 

While living in Fairbanks, Greg was very involved in the local community. He served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Breadline Stone Soup, the UAF School of Management, and as a commissioner on the Fairbanks North Star Borough Planning Commission. In 2011, Greg was a First Alaskans Fellow in Juneau where he worked with Rep. Reggie Joule. Greg often credits this fellowship for taking his career to a higher level, and for teaching him every Alaskan has a voice in our state and federal government. 

Greg met his wife, Charlene, while attending the University of Hawaii-Hilo. They have a beautiful daughter, Maxine, and baby Bringhurst #2 is due this January. Greg recharges himself by getting out on the land. He enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, and generally being out in the woods. He is also an avid motorcyclist. Greg holds a degree in Business from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 


To volunteer at the Gala, contact

For volunteer opportunities click here.


Proceeds from the Gala benefit First Alaskans Institute, a registered 501c3 organization.

EIN 92-017-4854. A portion of your contribution may be tax deductible. Donate Now.