by the Alaska Federation of Natives
Every year AFN honors those who have made outstanding contributions to their families and the Native community.
Each year, the Citizen of the Year award recognizes the contributions of a Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication, and service to the Alaska Native community and to Rural Alaska. The Award is bestowed upon an individual selected by the AFN Board of Directors for exemplary work that has improved the lives of Alaska Native people.
The 2017 Citizen of the Year is Robert Nick.
The Denali award recognizes the contributions of a Non-Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication, and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska. The Award is bestowed annually on an individual selected by the AFN Board of Directors for exemplary work that has improved the lives of Alaska Native people.
The 2017 Denali Award Winner is Dr. Stephen Langdon
2017 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
Robert Nick has an impressive record of service in Alaska in rural education, public housing, small business, health research, Alaska Native political organization and legislation, and economic development. Born in Bethel to a family of community-minded individuals, Mr. Nick grew up in the village of Nunapitchuk and throughout Akulmiut. With his family, he participated in subsistence activities including; hunting, fishing, gathering, and trapping.
Mr. Nick’s decades of service began with his election to the Nunapitchuk City Council in 1963. Many important regional and statewide organizations bear his mark, as he was often a board member and even co-founder of many entities that have become fixtures of Alaska’s business and political life, including the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Calista Corporation, and the Alaska Federation of Natives.
Throughout his service in a variety of leadership roles, Mr. Nick has been tireless in sharing his knowledge in Yup’ik language and traditions. His widely read columns in the Delta Discovery reinforce traditional values in a variety of contemporary contexts, and his writings reveal and pass on vital aspects of Yup’ik culture. With his ability to engage in scholarly work from a Yup’ik perspective and to work effectively in bureaucratic and community settings, Mr. Nick has been invaluable in expanding knowledge and understanding that bridge traditional and Western ways of knowledge.
DENALI AWARD WINNER
Dr. Stephen J. Langdon is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage where he taught from 1976 until June 2014.
Dr. Langdon has conducted research projects on many public policy issues impacting Alaska Natives. He has advocated for policies that enhance and promote rural Alaska Native communities and their cultures in such areas as fisheries, lands, tribal government, cultural heritage, customary trade and co-management. His research demonstrated the detrimental impacts of limited entry and fishery quota programs on predominantly Alaska Native rural communities and the positive impacts of the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program. In 2016, he conducted research for the AFN on Alaska Native eligibility to hunt marine mammals. He has also conducted extensive research on traditional ecological knowledge and uses of salmon by the Tlingit and Haida demonstrating the complex and rich relations between the people and salmon.
His book The Native People of Alaska is a widely used introduction to Alaska Native people.
The Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) selected him to give the keynote address to their 100th convention in 2012. In 2012, he received the Bullock Prize from the University of Alaska Foundation for career excellence in contributions to Alaska.
This year’s AFN Convention took place from Thursday, October 19th through Saturday, October 21st at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska.