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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

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2005 HAIL Awards Celebration ProgramDownload the 2005 Awards Celebration Program

Honoring Alaska's Indigenous Literature:

2005 Award Recipients:

Christopher Koonooka (Petuwaq)
St. Lawrence Island Yupik

Publication: Ungipaghaghlanga: Let me Tell A Story
Quutmiit Yupigita Ungipaghaatangit
Legends of the Siberian Eskimos
Published by the Alaska Native Language Center
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska

This book is written in Siberian Yupik and English. Christopher Koonooka did a lot of work to transliterate the work of the late Georgiy A. Menovshchikov, a Russian educator and linguist. There are six storytellers from the Chukotkan side of the Bering Strait that are featured.

Katherine Wickersham Wade
CIRI Region, Chickaloon Village

Publication: Chickaloon Spirit
Published by the Athabascan Nation of Chickaloon
Chickaloon Village Traditional Council

Katherine Wade's life intercepts a whole lot of lives and a whole lot of history in the Matanuska River Valley. Through this gift of her stories, her memories, her sense of humor despite tragedy, resilience despite setbacks, we learn some larger messages. We learn about mining history, railroad history, a bit of colony history and highway history. We learn about the adventures and misadventures this remarkable woman had in Chickaloon, Sutton, Palmer, Wasilla and Anchorage. We learn what it was like to be a half-breed-not enough Indian to be fully accepted by some of her Interior Indian Ahtna relatives, and not quite white enough for some folks who came to the Valley. Through Katie's narrative we become more fully aware of the shock of racist encounters, combined with a sense of awe of her sense of humor and resilience in face of it all.

Katherine Wickersham Wade is 81 years old. She was born up the Chickaloon River. Katherine's aunts and grandmother delivered her. She has one older sister.

Katherine Peter
Gwich'in Athabascan

Publication: Neets'aii Gwiindaii: Living in the Chandalar Country
Published by the Alaska Native Language Center
University of Alaska Fairbanks
1st Edition 1992, 2nd 1993, 3rd 2001

Katherine Peter is a well-known Gwich'in linguist in Interior Alaska. She first worked as a school teacher in Arctic Village in the early 1940s. She continued her position as a schoolteacher in Fort Yukon in 1956 and 1957. She worked at the Alaska Native Language Center in Fairbanks from 1973-1980 teaching the Gwich'in language at the university level-the first time that Native language was ever taught at a university. She also transcribed and composed what is by far the largest and most important body of Gwich'in writing in this century. The more than one hundred works include many published schoolbooks; a school dictionary; volume of stories, narrative, and legends; editions of texts told to Edward Sapir in 1923 by John Fredson; Dinjii Zhuu Gwandak, Khehkwaii Zheh Gwiich'i': Living in the Chief's House; and many files of transcriptions from about twenty-eight Gwich'in storytellers.

Katherine was born in Stevens Village on the Yukon River in 1918. After her parents passed away at an early age she was adopted by a leading family in Fort Yukon, that of Chief Esias Loola. She spoke Koyukon Athabascan at the time and at Fort Yukon she quickly learned Gwich'in, which replaced Koyukon as her first language. Katherine was raised and educated in a very strong and rich Gwich'in cultural life. She also periodically attended the one-room Bureau of Indian Affairs school at Fort Yukon where she learned English language and literacy. In 1936 Katherine married Steven Peter and moved to Arctic Village. She worked for a brief time in Arctic Village and Fort Yukon as a schoolteacher. In 1960 she moved to Fort Yukon to raise and educate her children. In 1970 she moved to Fairbanks where she worked at the Alaska Native Language Programs from 1973-1980. She retired from the center in 1980, but continues her involvement with her language work, including transcription and translation of the memoirs of Belle Herbert (Shandaa/In My Lifetime, Alaska Native Language Center 1982); the texts of another dozen schoolbooks for the Yukon Flats School District in 1983; Chandalar area place-names survey with Rick Caulfield; and editorial, grammatical, and dictionary work for the Alaska Native Language Center.


Alisha Drabek
Alutiiq/Native Village of Afognak

Publication: The Red Cedar of Afognak: A Driftwind Journey
Published by the Native Village of Afognak

Alisha Drabek is a dedicated individual with a deep sense of connection to Kodiak and its surrounding islands and her people. Throughout her life she has utilized her talents of writing, communicating and facilitating to bring people together, share a wealth of learned knowledge and work towards what is good for all of Kodiak's people. Writing is her passion-she has authored many grants that have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations and institutions throughout the region. Her real desire has been to write stories-The Red Cedar of Afognak, co-authored by Alisha and Dr. Karen Adams, and illustrated by Gloria Selby, is only the first story of what I am sure will be many! She is a talented writer, a dedicated educator, and a wonderful human who works endlessly to share what she has learned through personal experience and from her Elders in a way that brings respect and honor to the Alutiiq people.

Alisha Drabek is an associate professor of English at Kodiak College who was born and raised in Kodiak. She has an English and American Literature degree and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, both from the University of Arizona in Tucson. A former tribal administrator for the Native Village of Afognak, who also is the founding coordinator of Kodiak's "Esgahluku Taquka'aq"-"Awakening Bear"-a cultural celebration, she is proud to have returned to her home island to work with other Alutiiq people to preserve and honor the Alutiiq culture and heritage. Alisha is currently working as an apprentice with an Alutiiq speaking master teacher, and is a member of the Native Educators of the Alutiiq Region in Kodiak. She is married to Helm Johnson and has two sons.

Kaayistaan Marie Olson
Wooshkeetaan clan, Eagle Moiety of Aak'w kwaan

Publication: Tlingit Coloring Book
Wild Edible & Medicinal Plants, Vol I and II: Alaska, Canada & Pacific Northwest Rainforest

Author: Carol R. Biggs
Published by Carol Biggs Alaska Nature Connection
January 1999

Marie Olson of the Eagle Moiety Wooshkeetaan Clan of Auke Bay, Alaska, provided Tlingit names and usage for a number of plants in this booklet. With permission, the author included available Tlingit plant names in recognition and honor of indigenous cultures everywhere who have given the world valuable knowledge.

Marie has represented Southeast Alaska as an Elder, a member of the Southeast Tribal College Board of Trustees, and as UAF faculty. Not only does Marie work in the area of education, she is also president of Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp #2. Her previous work includes being an Elder in Resident for the Juneau School District. She shares her love of art, writing and gardening in the book Tlingit Coloring Book. Marie is widely respected for her knowledge of the Tlingit language, culture and history.

Marie Olson was born in Juneau and in her earlier years spoke only Tlingit. She is a member of the Wooshkeetaan Eagle clan of Aak'w kwaan and her Tlingit name is Kaayistaan which was the name of her maternal grandmother. Marie attended school in Juneau, Seattle, and San Francisco. After raising a family and working in Native American projects in the San Francisco area, she returned to school and graduated from UAS.

Rita Pitka-Blumenstein
Calista Region Yup'ik

Publication: Earth Dyes:
Nuunam Qaralirkai

Published by the Institute of Alaska Native Arts

Rita has made an impact in the lives of many people whether indigenous or coming from different countries as well as around the State, especially in her wellness program. She is a traditional healer. Her book contributes seeing her cultural knowledge about her own experience growing up in the village not just through stories but also through her real life experience.

Rita was born on a fishing boat on the ocean near Tununak in Western Alaska. Her upbringing is in the village of Tununak, Alaska. Throughout her life she learned from her mother to subsist and gather food and learned to use resources from the environment for arts and crafts. The skill of learning to sew is an essential part of her culture in order to make a living or meet the needs of survival. She is an expert Yup'ik basketmaker. Rita is of Yup'ik, Athabascan, Aleut and Russian ancestry. Rita is also talented in other areas. Rita now resides in Anchorage working for Southcentral Foundation as a traditional healer, a tribal doctor. Rita has helped many people with their ailments.




Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 21, 2006