by Calista Staff
Calista (cha-LIS-tah) Corporation is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the annual Calista Shareholder Awards. Drawn from nominations submitted by fellow Shareholders, these awards recognize exceptional efforts by Shareholders and Descendants to uphold the cultural values of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and its communities.
“As a people, we subsist by following qanruyutet, or ‘words of wisdom’ [in Yup’ik] from our Elders,” said Calista Corporation President/CEO Andrew Guy. “They say food creates family bonds, and they say Elders wish good fortune upon those who help them.”
• Calista Elder of the Year: Evan Macar (Sleetmute)
Evan is an Elder dedicated to serving his family and community. His grand-daughter Madison says, “He’s a very hard worker and has a lot of patience.” She says he’s always willing to give a helping hand to anyone in need, no matter who it is or the time of day.
Frank Neitz of the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative serving the YK Region, says Evan is active in the community operating and maintaining heavy equipment, and is the go-to-guy regarding anything water-related. Evan loves to spend his time outdoors, hunting and fishing.
• Calista Culture Bearer: Jamie Herring (Bethel)
Jamie Herring is taking steps to preserve Calista Region cultures for generations to come. After one of her daughters was accepted into the tribe but her second daughter being denied enrollment due to her blood quantum, Jamie took a stand.
Jamie reminded people that our goal should be to foster traditional values of a tight knit community by inclusion rather than allowing people to feel marginalized because of the way they look, how they speak, or where they come from. Jamie’s actions will help to ensure that the Yup’ik culture and tradition will live on in Western Alaska. Jamie’s actions embodied the Yup’ik values of community, togetherness, and sharing.
Jamie was born and raised in Bethel. She is currently a CPA working from home in Missoula, Montana, and raising her two daughters—teaching them to love the outdoors by taking them hunting, fishing and birding.
• Axel C. Johnson Distinguished Shareholder: Darlene Johnson-Edwards (Emmonak)
Darlene Johnson-Edwards is a role model for many people in Emmonak and surrounding villages. Darlene not only serves her community as a judicial magistrate for the State of Alaska, but she also serves others during their time of great need and loss.
Prior to the pandemic, Darlene often joined other gospel singers to gather in people’s home where there is a deceased loved one, to provide comfort, empathy and love to the family of the
deceased. Darlene has also been known to travel to another village, so she can sing and play guitar for a grieving family.
Darlene and her family live a subsistence lifestyle. They fish and hunt, as well as gather food. Every summer, Darlene is often seen cutting and smoking her fish in her smokehouse, picking berries, or putting away subsistence food like moose. In the winter, she loves to go ice fishing, or is often singing gospel songs with others in the village.
• Calista Youth/Educator of the Year: Teresa Paukan (St. Mary’s)
Calista’s Educator of the Year is Teresa Paukan. She will be the first Alaska Native principal of the St. Mary’s City School District. As a teacher, she would tell her students “Just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It means you should try harder.”
Teresa was born in Bethel and raised in St. Mary’s. She’s a Director for the St. Mary’s Native Corporation, and she’s earned three master’s Degrees from the University of Alaska Southeast – in K-8 Math, Technology, and Educational Leadership. When Teresa is not working with her students, she enjoys baking, sewing and Yup’ik dancing.
• Raymond C. Christiansen Business of the Year: Native Village of Napaimute Transportation Department
The YK’s equivalent of ice road truckers, the Native Village of Napaimute has long played a leading role in the establishment and maintenance of the Kuskokwim Ice Road and works cooperatively with all the tribal transportation departments along the Kuskokwim. This has allowed families to travel to and from their communities along the frozen river. Advocacy by Napaimute and other partners also helps fund plowing and safety marking of the winter road.
To the Kuskokwim communities, the Ice Road is as integral a part of the rural transportation system as the Alaska Marine Highway is to rural coastal communities, and to State and federal agencies that regularly use the road to carry out governmental functions. The Ice Road made it possible for vaccine deliveries and water delivery to Tuluksak when flights were grounded due to bad weather.
Award recipients will be recognized on July 1 during the 47th Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held virtually on www.CalistaVote.com. Recipients will receive an award plaque and financial reward.