by Greg Lincoln
This year’s Convention theme is “ANCSA at 50: Empowering Our Future.” to commemorate the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act fifty years ago. The 2021 AFN Convention was all virtual and took place on December 13 & 14.
Congratulations to Bethel’s own Ana Hoffman for being re-elected to serve as AFN’s Co-Chair. On December 10th, 2021 the AFN Board met and unanimously accepted Co-Chair Hoffman as the single candidate. Her new term will end in 2023. The Board shared Co-Chair Hoffman’s candidate video and can be accessed at AFN’s facebook page.
“The annual convention serves as the principal forum and voice for the Alaska Native community in addressing critical issues of public policy and government. The convention convenes thousands of official delegates and participants from membership organizations across the state,” says convention organizers.
At the convention, resolutions are passed by the voting delegates that set the priorities for the year and guide AFN’s efforts. The Convention is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of Native peoples.
Each year, AFN honors people with the President’s Awards, the Citizen of the Year award, and the Denali Award. Below are the award recipients.
2021 AFN Presidents Awards
Culture Bearer: Cyrus Harris
Della Keats “Healing Hands”: Susanna Naslik Norton
Elder of the Year: Betty Anagick
Lu Young Youth Leadership: Madilyn Short originally of Bethel
Parents of the Year: William “Bossa” and Hazel Alstrom II
Public Service: Ed Mercer
Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warriors of Light”: Ruth Demmert
Citizen of the Year Award: Tara Sweeney
This 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 annually on an individual selected by the AFN Board of Directors for exemplary work that has improved the lives of Alaska Native people.
Denali Award: Dr. Bob Onders
This 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.
Toksook Bay’s Byron Nicholai was chosen for the closing cultural performance: I Sing. You Dance after Monday’s sessions. Congratulations to all the award winners!