Rita Pitka was born on a fishing boat and raised in the Yup’ik village of Tununak on Nelson Island, Alaska. Her cultural background includes Yupi’ik, Aleut, Athabascan and Russian. Pitka’s early education came from studying with her mother, aunts and village elders. She is well known as a traditional healer, teacher and artist. She has spent more than 40 years investigating, producing and passing on many aspects of Alaska Native culture such as song, drumming, skin sewing, basketry, storytelling and use of plants for dyes and medicinal purposes. Southcentral Foundation has certified Pitka as a Tribal Doctor – the first certified in the State of Alaska to see Alaska Native and American Indian patients at the Alaska Native Medical Center’s Primary Care Center.