Alaska Federation of Natives Award Winners

  • Frank Jack, a Tlingit Indian from Juneau, notches his drum as a workshop on drum making begins at the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth conference on Oct. 12. Photo/Michael Dinneen/For the Journal
  • Mary Ayunerak of Alakanuk knits socks as she listens to presentations at the AFN convention. Photo/Michael Dinneen/For the Journal
  • Ryan Albert leads Copper Center’s Kluti-Kaah dancers as they perform Oct. 17 at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.Photo/Michael Dinneen/For the Journal
  • Artist Delores Churchill delivers the keynote address at the AFN convention. Photo/Michael Dinneen/For the Journal
  • Mary Ann Wiehl of Tanana joined the many who support the cause of the Fairbanks Four. Photo/Michael Dinneen/For the Journal

2015 Citizen of the Year: Fred Lauth, Sr.

This year’s Citizen of the Year has dedicated many years to his tribe, demonstrating his commitment to improving the health and prosperity of our Native people. He helped create the Seattle Haida Group that eventually became the dance group, Seattle Haida Laas, and he is known for constantly contributing his carvings and works of art to his community. He donates the majority of his craft.

Fred Lauth Sr. was raised in Hydaburg and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management with a minor in North West Coast Art from the University of Washington. After graduating, he served as Executive Director of The American Indian Elders of Seattle for five years, and went on to become the CEO of Western Coalition of Alaska Natives (WECAN). In 2008, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Cape Fox Corporation in Saxman, and served as the President until 2014.

Fred has been involved with Tlingit and Haida Washington Chapter for over two decades, and served on the CCTHITA Executive Council as one of six Vice Presidents for over five years.

Fred has a carving shop, OneHaidaFrog Totems, near the Ballard Bridge in Washington where he carves totems, masks and many other works of art. He is known as a loyal person with a giving heart.

2015 Denali Award: Alex Whiting

This year’s Denali Award honoree has revolutionized the way research is done in the Kotzebue area, by always keeping in mind the advice given to him by local Elders and by keeping local residents and tribal members involved. He also makes an effort to learn and regularly use Inupiaq words and phrases, and he make traditional medicine.

Alex Whiting is an honorary member of the Native Village of Kotzebue. He has lived and worked in Kotzebue since 1989, and has served for 18 years as the Environmental Specialist at the Native Village of Kotzebue.

One of the main goals of his work is to keep local residents and tribal members informed of and actively participating in ecological research and other related projects that happen in the region so that the information is culturally relevant and done in a respectful way that is consistent with lnupiaq values.

Alex shares food he harvests with his family and others, and has regularly donated food for the monthly Elders’ potlucks in Kotzebue. He has taken the time to learn and respect the Inupiaq culture and life in rural Alaska, spending as much time hunting and camping as he can.

He strives to learn more, and to utilize both the tools of the modern world and the ways of our ancestors to perpetuate the Inupiaq culture by educating others and keeping our environment safe so that we can continue thriving through our subsistence lifestyle.

He has successfully integrated traditional and scientific knowledge as a common practice in groundbreaking research projects, most notably through leading ice seal tagging efforts in Kotzebue Sound since 2004.

Alex has proposed and advocated for culturally relevant wildlife hunting regulations from an Inupiaq perspective on both the federal and state side. Most recently, he played a large role in changing ADF&G hunting regulations in order to accommodate the way that local residents hunt wolves, wolverines, and caribou on snow machines so that they may continue to harvest the way that they do without breaking any regulations.

He did this by drafting the proposal and writing a white paper discussing the cultural perspective behind this method of hunting.

President’s Award Honorees

Michael E. Swetzof: Culture Bearer Award

Michael E. Swetzof was born on St. George Island to Anna Shane and Simeon Swetzof and is married to Sally (Snigaroff) Swetzof of Atka. He was raised in Unalaska, lived in Atka, and recently moved to Anchorage. He has 6 children. Mike was the first president of the Aleut Corporation and served on the board of directors.

Dr. Nora Nagaruk: Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award

Dr. Nora Nagaruk, Aiyuu, was born and raised in Unalakleet, now resides in Nome with her husband Nathan Nagaruk. As a teenager, she wanted to become a doctor and return to the Bering Strait Region to serve her people.

Dr. Barb QasuGlana Amarok: Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award

Dr. Barb QasuGlana Amarok was raised in Nome, Kotzebue, Wrangell, and Juneau to Mary Ann Amarok Tiffany and Warren Tiffany. She has always had a passion for education, and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Master’s degree from UAA in Educational Leadership.

Suuyuk Lena Hanna: Elder of the Year Award

Suuyuk is dedicated to her community, working with her church, Kotzebue Elders Council, Native Village of Kotzebue tribal council and cooking for fundraisers. She is an outspoken Elders advocate, reminding others that Elders are suffering and it is the duty of Inupiaq communities and families to help.

Wanda Jean Solomon: Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award

Sergeant Wanda J. Solomon was born in Kaltag. She attended UAF, moved to Anchorage and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from UAA. With the encouragement of her father, who was a First Sergeant in the Army National Guard, she enlisted in the Air National Guard.

Putumiu Brent James Norton: Glenn Godfrey Law Enforcement Award

Heroism is defined as “great bravery.” For many in the NANA region, Putumiu Brent James Norton embodies what it means to be a true hero. In July 2015, shots rang out in Selawik. Described as a “rookie, on-call patrolman” by Selawik City Mayor Raven Sheldon, Brent was first to the scene.

Carole Huntington: Hannah Paul Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award

Carole Huntington and husband Roger have always been active in community service. Married since 1978, the two have dedicated 27 years to managing the Kokrine Hills Bible Camp located on the Yukon River between Tanana and Ruby.

Dr. Elise Pletnikoff: Health Award

Dr. Elise Pletnikoff is happy to be practicing medicine in her hometown. Born in Sand Point, she grew up Kodiak, spent summers fishing in Sand Point and Chignik. Attending Kodiak schools, she was interested in medicine early on. She was interested in science and wanted to be a doctor since she was seven.

Clarence Wood: Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award

Clarence Wood is the son of the late Luke and Grace Wood of Ambler. Today he lives with his wife Hannah in Ambler where much of his time is spent harvesting and gathering for his family and village. He was married to the late Marie Wood and together they raised 15 children.

Agga Chloe Naylor: Lu Young Youth Leadership Award

Leadership is not defined by age; it is defined by actions. Agga Chloe Naylor’s actions to help the community of Kivalina after their only store burnt to the ground in December 2014 demonstrates the selfless work of leadership. Raised in Kotzebue, Naylor’s path to service began at a young age.

Louise and Lee Kadinger: Parents of the Year Award

Lee and Louise Kadinger have 7 children and 4 grandchildren. They provided foster care for 10 Native children over the years, three of which they adopted. Given the many special needs of their children, their approach to parenting is rather simple—love, compassion, and understanding.

Andy Teuber: Public Service Award

Andy Teuber serves as the Chairman and President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, a position he has held since 2008. Teuber has also served as the President/CEO of the Kodiak Area Native Association since 2006. He is an enrolled member and President of Tangirnaq Native Village.

Byron Nicholai: Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award

Byron Nicholai is the son of David and Dora Nicholai of Toksook Bay. Byron is highly active in keeping his traditions and culture alive by promoting singing and drumming in his Native language. He has traveled throughout the states and recently performed for U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Washington, D.C.

Kristi Skaflestad: Small Business Award

Located in the small fishing town of Hoonah, the Chipper Fish is a seafood eatery owned by chef Kristi Skaflestad. She is of Aleut and Tlingit decent. She is from the T’akdeintaan Clan. She graduated from Le Cordon Blue’s Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon.

Phillip Albert, Jr.: Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warrior of Light” Award

Phillip Albert, Jr. was born in Tanana, raised in Kokrines and Ruby with traditional Athabascan values of respect for others and land, hard work, sharing, caring, cooperation and self-sufficiency. His family lived a subsistence lifestyle, up until early adulthood when a winter accident while trapping, requiring that both his feet and fingers on both hands be amputated.

10/21/2015 - 1:38pm