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Ishmael is the son of the late Elizabeth Freda Hope from the Goodwin family in Kotzebue, and Andy Hope III from Sitka, a Tlingit of the Siknax.adi clan. His Inupiaq name is Analook and his Tlingit name is Kaa Kwaask. He is of the Kiks.adi clan, of the Point House in Sitka. He has experience as a storyteller all over Alaska. He has acted for Perseverance Theatre since 2001 with Moby Dick. He started and directed the annual festival of Beyond Heritage, a celebration of contemporary and traditional Alaska Native culture, now heading into its sixth year.