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Poldine (Demoski) Carlo

Photo of Poldine (Demoski) Carlo
Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Alaska Native Cultural Leadership


Poldine Demoski Carlo is an author and an elder of the Koyukon Athabascan of interior Alaska. She was born in Nulato, Territory of Alaska in 1920. She grew up in a traditional manner where her family hunted moose, picked berries and fished for salmon on lands and river adjacent to the village.

Carlo married William “Bill” Carlo in 1940. They have produced eight children: five sons (William, Jr., Kenny, Walter, Glenn, and Stewart), and three daughters (Dorothy, Lucy, and Kathleen). and dozens of grand children and great grandchildren.

When  Carlo and her husband Bill first moved to Fairbank in the mid fifties, Alaska Natives didn’t have a meeting place to call their own.  They wanted to talk about better education and economic opportunities, as well as civil rights.

“Even the people who didn’t drink had no place to go In the 50’s and 60’s except the bars,” said Carlo.  “We started inviting them over to our house. For two or three winters, we had different village mushers and their dogs staying here in the woods behind our house.” That all changed after Carlo’s relative Ralph Perdue suggested to her that they start a Native organization in Fairbanks.

“I really didn’t have a vision of what the organization, the Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), would look like”, Carlo said.  “I would never have thought it would grow like it has. What started as four or five people meeting around the Carlo kitchen table has grown into a multi-million dollar organization with forty different programs and a staff or over 200”.

Since the 50s , Carlo has been involved with FNA through much of its growth by serving as a Board Member and advocate. Carlo is also an active member of the Denakkanaaga Board of Directors, which serves Elders in the interior region of the Tanana Chief’s Conference. She has also served on the University of Alaska Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, the Alaska Native Education Advisory Board, the North Star Borough Senior Citizens Commission, the Alaska Bicentennial Commission Board, the Aboriginal Senior Citizens of Alaska and many other organizations.

She serves as an Elder mentor during the World Eskimo Indian Olympics and can be seen participating in every Doyon, Limited Shareholder meeting. Carlo continues to accept many opportunities to show support to those in times of need by volunteering her support and her voice.


Poldine wrote, Nulato: An Indian Life on the Yukon, a novel describing life in the 1920’s and 1930’s growing up in the Athabascan way in the village of Nulato. Today one of the Athabascan traditions Poldine loves most is singing and dancing. In 1994, Pauline was profiled in “Singing We Come: Shaping our Future Through Language and Song,” an Institute of American Indian Arts collection of stories about Native women singers and storytellers from throughout the United States. Poldine wrote a powerful and moving song about her daughter, and she recently shared it with the Māori whānau visiting in Fairbanks. She continues to share her traditions through singing. She loves to sing with the Koyukon Athabascan Singers. In 2015 when she greeted President Barack Obama in Anchorage she sang an Athabascan song about Denali – to show him how important it was to return the name to indigenous roots.

Carlo has been a mentor to other women through her early demonstration of gathering people together to benefit the community. She continues to accept any opportunity to show support to those in need by volunteering her time. For more than 15 years, Poldine shared Athabascan traditions with children through a program of cultural enrichment in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. And she continues to teach different groups today upon request.

Fairbanks Native Association has named its main office building the Poldine Carlo Building in her honor. She is beloved throughout the region.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech