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Elder, Artist Win Alaska Native Visionary Awards


Nov. 19, 2009

Fairbanks, Alaska—An elder and an artist who lend their expertise to a secondary school science program at the UAF Geophysical Institute recently received Alaska Native Visionary awards.

Athabascan elder Robert Charlie and multimedia artist Lance Twitchell received the awards earlier this month. The 2009 Alaska Native Visionary Awards are the first of their kind. The Alaska Native Heritage Month Committee presents the awards to honor Alaska Natives who perpetuate and preserve culture through artistic and visionary ventures.

The Geophysical Institute nominated Charlie for his work on Uniting Native Indigenous Traditional Education and University Science, or the UNITE-US project.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the project is designed to bridge the gap between indigenous knowledge systems and Western instruction used in secondary schools. The project will use arctic climate as the overall framework. When complete, the project will provide a secondary science curriculum for 1,200 rural Alaska Native students.

Charlie, 82, provides cultural expertise to UNITE-US, and will create a manual for teaching science, technology and math in Alaska Native communities. He also serves as a liaison between elders and curriculum developers.

Twitchell is a multimedia artist of Tlingit, Haida and Yup’ik descent, who also lends his expertise to UNITE-US. Through his company, Troubled Raven Productions, Twitchell provides curricula-related graphics and associated Web sites for the project, as well as other education projects at the Geophysical Institute.
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