John Quniaq Baker to Address AFN Convention

2011 Iditarod Winner to Speak at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage

The Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors announced today that Alaska Native Iditarod winner John Quniaq Baker will deliver the 2011 AFN Convention keynote address.

“Everyone here at AFN is very excited about John’s participation at this year’s Convention,” said AFN Convention Committee Chair and President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Edward Thomas, “Our annual gathering is not only the largest Native political and cultural event in the nation, but also the time we set aside each year to share our hopes, dreams and ideas. John is an amazing source of inspiration and a great example of what can be accomplished with wisdom, discipline and lots of hard work.”

John Quniaq Baker was born, raised, and lives in Kotzebue. A dog musher, pilot and motivational speaker, he enjoys living and training in Arctic Alaska. John has always been eager to learn from Inupiat elders about the land and animals – especially dogs. He has applied this knowledge drawn from his Native heritage, while also developing his own innovative techniques that reflect the ingenuity and adaptability of his people, who have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years.

Baker has spent the past twelve years visiting schools in rural Alaska where he speaks about establishing a dream, and pursuing it. His focus is “dream, try, win,” and he illustrates his program with stories of personal triumph — and failure — and how to turn both into opportunity.

Baker entered his first Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1996. He has completed sixteen Iditarod races with twelve finishes in the Top Ten and two in third place. This year he became the first Alaska Native musher to win the Iditarod.

Slated to run from October 20-22 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, this year’s AFN Convention will focus on “Strength in Unity.” This year’s agenda will boast a wide array of speakers, from Native leaders to government representatives. Other highlights will include Exhibit and Health Fairs; “Quyana” dance performances; AFN awards for outstanding achievements; and a closing reception and banquet on October 22. AFN is expecting another record year for its popular Native Arts & Crafts Fair, which will feature more than 140 booths.

The AFN Convention is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples. Delegates meet to discuss current events and issues. Approximately 4,000–5,000 delegates and participants attend each year, and the proceedings are broadcast live via television and radio reaching Alaska Natives and non-Natives alike from Barrow to Ketchikan, from the Aleutian Chain to the Canadian border.