Sealaska and Alaska Federation of Natives
The 2013 Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention ended Saturday, October 26, 2013. The yearly gathering brings approximately 4,000–5,000 attendees together to discuss issues and create opportunities for Alaska Natives. This year’s theme was Traditional Native Family Values. Sealaska places core Native values at the heart of its business, and was among the many representatives joining the conversations at AFN.
Sealaska has been a member of AFN since 1972. "AFN has been an advocate for Alaska Natives on many issues, beginning with land claims in 1966," said Sealaska President & CEO Chris E. McNeil Jr. “Alaska Natives have a powerful voice when addressing policy issues with national and state leaders when we can unite and organize our efforts through institutions like AFN. We must work toward solutions through collaboration, resolutions and collective action. AFN’s proven leadership and representation play a vital role in advancing effective public policy for Alaska Natives and the state.
A major announcement at AFN this year was a $100,000 gift from Doyon Limited to Sealaska Heritage Institute. Doyon President & CEO Aaron Schutt says it is an honor to assist SHI in bringing to fruition the Water Soboleff Center. “The intent of the building, to have a place that celebrates culture, arts and traditions of all Alaska Natives, is significant,” said Schutt. “We are proud to contribute to this building named in honor of the late Walter Soboleff, a man who worked tirelessly to achieve civil rights for Native people and who believed so strongly in sharing Native traditions.”
One of the actions this year included election of the two AFN co-chairs. In an interview with Juneau Empire, Sealaska board chair and former AFN co-chair Albert Kookesh stated that a heart attack earlier this year forced him to reconsider his obligations and voluntarily step aside from running for another co-chair term. "I want to live to be well into my 80s and 90s and if I keep doing things like this I may not,” Kookesh told the Juneau Empire.
Kookesh is Tlingit Eagle Brown Bear (Teikweidí) and was recognized for his 14 years of service as AFN co-chair on the final day of the convention. Sealaska vice chair Rosita Worl and other Southeast leaders honored him by singing the Tlingit National Anthem.
Click here to watch the video.
AFN President’s Awards
Each year, Alaska Natives making a positive difference in their communities are recognized with AFN President’s Awards. Awards are presented to people who are dedicated to public service, young people who demonstrate leadership qualities, and to an Elder demonstrating the highest values and qualities important to Alaska Natives. Two new awards were introduced in 2013: Clifford Charlie (Fairbanks and Old Minto) is the first recipient of the GIN'TITH (Richard Frank) Military Service Award recognizing an Alaska Native demonstrating a strong commitment and willingness to serve in the Armed Forces in defense of the United States; and the Dr. Walter Soboleff Warrior of Light, which was awarded to Vernon Stickman Sr. of Tanana for uplifting, enriching and unifying Native people in their communities through his suicide awareness walk.
Southeast Alaska Recognitions
Nancy Barnes (Tsimshian and Alutiiq) was presented the Parent of the Year award for her role in raising her niece, and is known as ‘Auntie Nancy’ to many children. Barnes is a Sealaska tribal member shareholder and serves on the board of trustees for Sealaska Heritage Institute. She also serves on the board for Eyak Corporation.
Toni Mallott (Athabascan) was named Citizen of the Year for her dedication to education. She is a retired public school elementary teacher dedicated to working with children who spoke English as a second language. Mallott is the wife of Sealaska board member Byron Mallott. Read a story by KTOO’s Rosemarie Alexander.
Kyle Demientieff -Worl
Kyle Demientieff -Worl (Tlingit and Athabascan) was presented the Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award. Demientieff-Worl is dedicated to promoting Native languages and culture as a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and as an employee of the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Sealaska applauds everyone that was honored with a 2013 AFN President’s Award. The values that guide us as Alaska Natives link us together, and our actions showcase our collective identity. Through living our Native values and taking action we will strengthen our communities, and our future.
AFN delegates representing Southeast Alaska elected Rob Sanderson Jr. to serve as the village representative. Sanderson (Haida) serves as 2nd Vice President, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
Volunteer with Heart
Hilda Macdonald is a Sealaska shareholder and volunteer with the Golden Heart Greeters, a program of the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau. About 100 volunteers welcomed and helped visitors in Fairbanks for the AFN convention. Click here to hear why Macdonald enjoys volunteering and offering hospitality. Read about the program in this Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story.
Alysha Guthrie, Sealaska Board Youth Advisor
“It’s always an honor to be a part of something that brings our people together.” Sealaska shareholder Alysha Guthrie (Tlingit and Haida) was selected to serve as the Sealaska board youth advisor for 2013-2014 and in that role attended the Elders & Youth Conference. The Sealaska board is committed to providing mentorship in the boardroom to younger shareholders. Through the experience, the board youth advisor will develop leadership skills and a better understanding of Sealaska’s operations. We asked Alysha to comment on her experience at the Elders & Youth Conference. Read about it here
Tanana 4-H Breaks Silence on Hard Issues
Tanana 4-H volunteer Cynthia Erickson brought a group of students to the Elders & Youth Conference in Fairbanks. The group, ranging in age from 10 into the teens, talked about issues impacting their communities. Substance abuse, domestic violence and other social challenges are universal across Alaska and the nation — this courageous group is speaking out on sensitive issues to make positive change in the future. These young leaders shared how the issues impact them personally and their emotional stories led to an invitation to present to the AFN delegates on the main stage during the event agenda. Read about their inspirational story by Dermot Cole with the Alaska Dispatch.