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Hannah Solomon was a Gwich'in Athabascan who was born in 1908 in the village of Old Rampart, Alaska near the Canadian border to an Athabascan mother and non-Native father. She was raised by adoptive parents, Eliza and Mardow, and lived a subsistence lifestyle following the traditions of the Gwich'in Athabascans of the Yukon Flats area. She was married to Paul Solomon, Sr. for 46 years, and living in Fort Yukon she helped raise his four children plus 14 children of their own, as well as many foster children. While raising her large family, Hannah became active in community affairs in Fort Yukon. She helped Fort Yukon organize into an incorporated city and create a school board, and became Fork Yukon's first female mayor. She was involved with Native politics during the Native land claims era in the 1960s and 1970s, attended the first meeting of the Alaska Federation of Natives in 1966, and was elected to the first board of directors for GwichyaaZhee Corporation in Fort Yukon.
Although she only had a few years of elementary school education, Hannah was a strong advocate for education, especially for the Native youth. She spoke fluent Gwich’in and made sure her children learned to speak it as well. After moving to Fairbanks in 1965, she noticed that there was no organization to help Alaska Natives in the city. Along with Poldine and Bill Carlo and other friends, Hannah was one of the founding members of the Fairbanks Native Association (FNA) whose purpose was to the help the Native population in Fairbanks. She then worked for FNA as a social worker and developed programs for the elderly. As an Alaska Native leader, she also was active in the Alaska Federation of Natives, Doyon Ltd., and Tanana Chiefs Conference.
Hannah Solomon is also well known for her beadwork, a skill she learned from her mother, which has been nationally recognized and collected by museums and collectors. In 2000, she was selected by the University of Alaska Fairbanks to be an Elder in Residence and was cited for the “wisdom, understanding and friendship” she provided through the program. In recognition of her contributions to the elder program, the Fairbanks Native Association named their senior care building the “Hannah Solomon Building.”
Hannah Solomon passed away in 2011 at the age of 102. Earlier in that same year, she attended and spoke at the annual meeting of the Doyon, Ltd. Native regional corporation. She was known throughout Alaska for her wealth of knowledge, her activism and leadership, her wisdom, and her comittment to education and preservation of cultural knowledge and skills. For more about Hannah Solomon, see her obituary in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner newspaper and in the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.