2013 Convention Media Alert: AFN 2013 Awards

AFN Convention Update

AFN 2013 Awards Honor Native Leaders

FAIRBANKS, AK – Every year AFN honors those who have made outstanding contributions to their families and the Native community. Please read on for a list of this year’s honorees (scroll to the bottom of the page for brief overviews of each award and 2013 recipient):

Vernon Stickman, Sr – Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warrior of Light” Award

Teisha Simmons – Hannah Paul Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award

Sally Swetzof – Culture Bearer Award

Mildred Black – Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award

Dr. Shari Huhndorf – Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award

Glenn Godfrey, Jr. – Glenn Godfrey Law Enforcement Award

Charles Akers – Health Award

Nick Alexia, Sr. – Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award

Raissa Boskofsky – Lu Young Youth Leadership Award

Nancy Cecile Barnes – Parent of the Year Award

Peter Captain, Jr. – Public Service Award

Kyle Demientieff – Worl – Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award

Melvin John Kewan – Small Business Award

Clifford Charlie – Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award

Yesterday, AFN recognized three Native community leaders selected for recognition by the AFN board of directors: Toni Mallott – 2013 AFN Citizen of the Year Dr. Lawrence Kaplan – Denali Award Robert Marshall – Elder of the Year – – – This year’s AFN Convention is taking place from Thursday, October 24th through Saturday, October 26th at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. More event details and a LIVE webcast of the event are available at:  www.nativefederation.org/annual-convention Join us on social media! #AFN2013 For more information or to schedule interviews, please contact Ben Mallott: 907-321-3217 or bmallott@nativefederation.org.


Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warrior of Light” Award The Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warrior of Light” Award is given to someone who uplifts our people, enriches our spirits, and unifies our people.  This year’s winner is Vernon Stickman, Sr. Mr. Stickman is Koyukon Athabascan from Tanana, and was also raised in Ruby and Galena.  His parents were the late Donald and Josephine Stickman.  He met his wife, Arla, as a teenager and together they raised their two sons, Brandon and the late Cory Stickman.  In 2010, after their son Vernon “Cory” Stickman Jr. committed suicide, Mr. Stickman decided to make a 200-mile Suicide Awareness walk that included passing through Tanana, Ruby, Galena, Koyukuk, Nulato and Kaltag.  With the support of his family, friends and community, Mr. Stickman began his journey in 2012, stopping at schools to talk to students about healthy living and suicide prevention.  Information on Mr. Stickman’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Walk can be found at www dot  vern  stickman sr and teams dot com.
Hannah Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award The Hannah Solomon “Woman of Courage” Award is given to an Alaska Native woman who demonstrates through her life and work the strengths of our culture and values, and exhibits tremendous courage. This year, the award goes to Teisha Simmons.  Ms. Simmons is the daughter of Marie Simmons and the late James Walldow, the wife of Zach Nelson, and the mother of Tassy.  After surviving a car accident at the age of sixteen that left her as a paraplegic, she has been confined to a wheelchair.  That didn’t stop her from completing her Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is passionate about language revitalization, sustaining Native cultural traditions, and advocating for higher education and suicide prevention.Culture Bearer Award The Culture Bearer Award recognizes an Alaska Native who demonstrates strong involvement in the arts.  This award can also recognize an artist, an arts administrator or a preserver of Native culture.  Sally Swetzof is this year’s AFN Culture Bearer. Ms. Swetzof was born in Atka and grew up living a largely traditional lifestyle.  She spoke only Unangam Tunuu until she started school and had to learn English.  As one of the founding members of the Atxam Taligisniikangis dance group, she has provided the Unangam Tunuu translations for songs since its inception in 1995.  For the past 13 years, she has taught sewing, Unangax dance, making regalia and beaded headdresses, and traditional food preparation.  She has mentored youth at the Sand Point Culture Camp, APIA Culture Camp, Camp Qungaayux in Unalaska and the Akutan Culture Camp. Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award The Della Keats “Healing Hands” Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence and sensitivity as a tribal healer or health care provider and whose accomplishments have most directly affected Native people in their home communities.  This year’s winner is Mildred Black of Shungnak. Aana Mildred has practiced cultural medicine since 1956, and works to heal the body and mend the spirit of those in her care.  She also learned Western medicine from her time as a Community Health Aide.  Aana Mildred has comforted new  mothers as a midwife, and once, saved the life of a newborn baby.  Most importantly, Aana Mildred takes the time to share her traditional knowledge, teaching those around her remedies, such as bloodletting, and helping to cleanse the mind, body and spirit.  She participates in local and regional Inupiaq Days, teaching skin sewing, lifesaving skills, and traditional games and encourages children to learn healthy habits and participate in subsistence activities. Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award The Eileen Panigeo MacLean Education Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated a strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the education field, and whose accomplishments have improved educational opportunities for Alaska Natives.  This year’s winner is Dr. Shari Huhndorf. Dr. Huhndorf is currently a professor of Native American Studies and Comparative Ethic Studies at UC Berkely.  She is the author of two books:  Going Native:  Indians in the American Cultural Imagination and Mapping the Americas:  The Transnational Politics of Contemporary Native Culture, she is also a co-editor of “Indigenous Women and Feminism:  Politics, Activism, Culture.”  Dr. Huhndorf also served for a decade as a member of the board of directors of the CIRI Foundation. Glenn Godfrey Law Enforcement Award The Glenn Godfrey Law Enforcement Award recognizes an Alaska Native federal, state, or local law enforcement officer who has shown outstanding dedication to the safety of the public in any location within Alaska, often requiring heroic courage in the face of danger.  This year’s winner is Glenn Godfrey, Jr. Glenn Godfrey, Jr. has lived in Kodiak, Juneau, Northway, Bethel and Eagle River.  He first worked as a Fish & Wildlife Aide for the Alaska State Troopers, then was promoted to a State Trooper in 1996.  Mr. Godfrey served as the regional Vice President for the AST, as well as a board member for the Alaska Peace Officer Association.  He was one of few State Troopers who willingly traveled to the Bering Sea for six weeks at a time to protect the resource his ancestors subsisted off for thousands of years.  He received the State of Alaska Boating Officer of the Year Award for his service. Health Award The Health Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the health fields, and whose accomplishments have improved health care for Alaska Natives.  This year’s Health Award goes to Charles Akers. Mr. Akers spent his early years in the US Navy as a hospital corpsman.  His post-military services includes 12 years as executive directors of the Alaska Rural Development Council.  In this position he was directly involved in the precursor to what is now telemedicine.  Mr. Akers has served in the Southcentral Foundation Board of Directors, Director of the alley Native Primary Care Center Joint Operating Board and also helped open the Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center.  He is also involved in Southcentral Foundation’s Nuka System of Care Conference. Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award The Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award recognizes an Alaska Native who exemplifies and preserves the spirit of successful subsistence hunting, trapping and sharing, and our way of life.  Nominees must acknowledge and ensure that the next generation of providers will carry on the traditions and customs in harmony and peace to sustain their extended families.  This year’s award goes to Nick Alexia, Sr. Nick Alexia, Sr. is the First Chief of the Edzeno Village Council in Nikolai and a fluent speaker of the Upper Kukokwim Athabascan language.  He takes great pride in teaching his children and grandchildren the traditional ways of hunting, trapping and gathering.  He acts as a father figure for his grandchildren and leads by example.  Mr. Alexia was instrumental in starting the summer youth program in Nikolai.  He has lived a sober lifestyle for over 20 years and has been nicotine free for 10 years. The Lu Young the Year Leadership Award Lu Young Youth Leadership Award recognizes young women of high school or college age, who demonstrate leadership qualities and challenge themselves to become future leaders.  This year’s award goes to Raissa Boskofsky. Raissa grew up in Port Lions, on Kodiak Island.  She has been a valuable member of the Port Lion’s school athletics, and volunteers in her community while maintaining an “A” grade average.  She is rooted in her Alutiiq heritage and received the Alutiiq Language Award for her efforts to keep her language alive.  She upholds the Alutiiq value of caring for their elders.  She is currently working on her associate degree in Business Management. Parent of the Year The parent of the year recognizes an Alaska Native parent who exhibits many of the qualities and values important to the continued physical, social and cultural survival of Native people.  This year’s Parent of the year is Nancy Cecile Barnes. Nancy Barnes is also known as “Auntie Nancy” to many children.  She did not hesitate to step up to the plate to become a full-time single parent to her niece Nancy-Evelyn Barnes over seven years ago.  Ms. Barnes started the Shimalgyak Language Circle in Juneau and is the group leader for the Yees Ku Oo Dancers.  She has served on the Board of the Eyak Corporation, and the Chugach Alaska Corporation Board.  She has a total of 26 years in the State Capitol Building in public service. Public Service Award The Public Service Award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated dedication, competence, and sensitivity.  It recognizes individuals who have promoted and assisted in the development of their community, who’s accomplishments and leadership skills have directly affected and benefitted Alaska Native People.  This year’s Public Service award goes to Peter Captain, Jr.  Mr. Captain started at an early age as a volunteer as a personal care attendant in Galena, where he helped countless elders.  Since then he has worked for various non-profit agencies, rendering assistance to those who need it most.  He gives his time volunteering to work with youth in Fairbanks.  He is well known throughout the interior for tirelessly assisting families in their toughest emotional times.  He spends between 30 and 40 hours organizing events such as funerals, potlatches, and fundraisers.  He has made a personal effort to learn how to help others. Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award The Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award recognizes a young man of high school or college age who demonstrates leadership qualities and expand their horizons to challenge themselves to become future leaders.  This year’s Roger Lange Youth Award goes to Kyle Demientieff – Worl. Kyle Kaayaakw Demientieff-Worl is Tlingit of the Lukaax.adi clan and Deg Hit’an Athabascan.  He is a Junior at the University of Alaska Anchorage pursuing a major in Anthropology and a minor in Alaska Native Studies.  He is actively involved in several academic and other organizations at UAA, such as the Native Student Council as co-chair.  He has been recognized three times as employee of the month for his dedication in sharing Alaska Native cultures to visitors to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.  Kyle has led several leadership workshops to teach the values of the games, and is passionate about learning and promoting Native languages by engaging with his community in language revitalization. Small Business Award The Small Business award recognizes an Alaska Native business owner or manager who has demonstrated success in business with a commitment with their community, which has improved economic opportunities for Alaska Natives. This year’s Small business award goes to Melvin John Kewan. After graduating from high school, Melvin attended the Technical College in Sheldon, Iowa where he received his Certificate in Carpentry.  He has worked in the Property Maintenance Field since 1986 doing everything from small repairs to remodeling for over 25 years.  Today, he operates his own small business, Mel’s Residential Repair.  In this very competitive industry, Melvin has held his own, expanding his business with focus on hiring other Alaska Natives when he can.  He taught himself from the ground up and is now serving on the Kita Development Corporation Board of Directors so he can create jobs and teach others in his village to grow their own business. Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award The Gin’tith (Richard Frank) Military Service Award recognizes an Alaska Native who demonstrates a strong commitment and willingness to serve in the US armed forces in the defense of the Unites States of America.  This year’s winner is Clifford Charlie.  Clifford Charlie was drafted into the United States Army in 1968 and was stationed in Germany and completed two tours of service in Vietnam.  On his third tour, Richard Frank contacted then-Senator Ted Stevens to advocate for Clifford’s return to the US to complete his military service because he was the only remaining member of his family.  He was honorably discharged in 1974, at which time he returned to Minto.  Since then he has become involved with the community and family, working and took care of his grandmother Lucy during her remaining years.
To read full press release click HERE.