Dorcus Rock

Dorcus Rock was awarded the Della Keats Healing Hands Award at the 2019 AFN Convention on Saturday. Dorothy Chomiz/News-Miner

Ten people were honored at the 2019 Alaska Federation of Natives Convention for outstanding contributions to their families and the Native community.

State Sen. Lyman Hoffman was awarded the Citizen of the Year Award for protecting the interests of rural Alaska and Alaska Natives during his 32 years in the Legislature. Hoffman was born and raised in Bethel and was city manager there until his election to the state House of Representatives in 1986. Hoffman now represents Senate District S, which serves Adak, Bethel, Cold Bay, Cantrell, King Cove, Nenana, Hooper Bay, Sand Point, Tanana and Unalaska. 

Tim Troll received the Denali Award, which recognizes a non-Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska. Troll moved to Bethel in 1978, organized the first Yupik Dance Festival while working as the city manager of St. Mary’s in the 1980s, and was an attorney for various tribes, villages and Native corporations. Troll is the executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust. At Troll’s award ceremony Saturday morning, Bristol Bay Native Corporation board member Russell Nelson gave him a sealskin and beaver hat and a jar of salmon strips as a show of appreciation.

“We’ve got to thank him for all of the thousands of acres that he protected. He’s done some real good for us and he well deserves this award,” Nelson said.

The eight winners of the 2019 President’s Awards were honored in a group ceremony Saturday afternoon after Sen. Dan Sullivan’s address at the convention. The awards presentation was abbreviated because discussion and voting on this year’s convention resolutions, which were scheduled to end at noon, ran long and did not conclude until shortly after 3 p.m. 

The President’s Awards and winners are as follows:

• Dorcus Rock, Della Keats Healing Hands Award. This award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, competence and sensitivity as a tribal healer or health care provider who directly affects Native people in their home communities. Rock was born in Utqiagvik, raised in Fairbanks and studied education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. A mother of nine, Rock taught Inupiat in Utqiagvik and served as a traditional healer. After the ceremony, Rock said she was “very proud” to receive the award. “I’m just excited, but I want to thank God first for always being there to help me,” Rock said.

• Ulric and Mary Ulroan, Parents of the Year Award. This award recognizes Alaska Native parents who exhibit many of the qualities and values important to the continued physical, social and cultural survival of Native people. The Ulroans are teachers in Chevak and have raised their six children to value the traditional subsistence way of life and to excel in sports and academics. 

• Chief Gary Harrison, Public Service Award, for demonstrated dedication, competence and sensitivity in public service. Harrison is the longest standing member of the Chickaloon Native Village’s Traditional Council and was named traditional chief in 1994. Harrison has worked for three decades to promote quality health services for all Alaska Natives and advocate for community and economic development projects.

• Benjamin Young, Culture Bearer Award. This award recognizes an artist, arts administrator or a preserver of Native culture. Young was raised in Hydaburg and taught his first language class as a teenage at Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Latseen Leadership Academy. Young has worked in language revitalization as a language mentor, researcher and curriculum developer.

• Amber Webb, the Dr. Walter Soboleff Warriors of Light Award. This award recognizes a person who uplifts, enriches the spirits of and unifies Alaska Native people. Born and raised in Anchorage, Webb spent most of her summers in Dillingham and is a strong advocate for social justice and water protection. Webb makes apparel that celebrates the Yup’ik language and subsistence activities, and is the creator of a six-foot qaspeq made from recycled sheets which features portraits of 47 murdered and missing indigenous Alaskan women and girls. 

• Caitlynn Hanna, Lu Young Youth Leadership Award, which recognizes young women in high school or college who demonstrate leadership qualities. Hanna is a civil engineering student at UAF and is a member of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program group.

• Nina Nasruq Harvey, Elder of the Year Award. This award recognizes an Alaska Native Elder who exemplifies the highest of values and qualities important to Native people. Harvey’s father died when she was 4 and her family moved to Kobuk and built a cabin in 1955. The cabin had no light except for the fire in the wood stove, and the family lived off of fish and berries. Harvey still harvests subsistence foods with the help of her 85-year-old sister.

Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMcrime.