November 2019


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Doyon Foundation will be closed Thursday and Friday to celebrate the holiday with our families and friends. We give thanks for all of our students, volunteers, language teachers and learners, staff, board members, donors and other supporters. We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Oline (far left), her granddaughter Stephanie in the middle, and Teresa Hanson

Oline (far left) with her granddaughter, Stephanie (middle), and Teresa Hanson

Born in the Athabascan community of Nikolai, Oline Petruska is a Doyon Foundation language champion committed to speaking and writing Dinak’i, the language of Alaska Native people of the upper Kuskokwim River. Oline is a daughter of Miska and Anna Alexia, and a granddaughter of Alex and Lena Alexia, all of Nikolai.

From 1961 to 1963, Oline attended Mount Edgecumbe High School, the Sitka-based residential school attracting primarily Alaska Native students from around the state. In 1969, she joined VISTA, the Kennedy-era national service program aimed at alleviating poverty, and served as a preschool and adult basic education teacher in Nikolai.

Oline’s family includes her daughter, Shirley, of Nikolai; brother, Mike, of Anchorage; and granddaughter, Stephanie, of Nikolai. All are studying Dinak’i through Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project, which offers free access to online courses in Alaska Native languages spoken throughout the Doyon region. Doyon Foundation officially launched Doyon Languages Online in summer 2019 with the release of the first four courses in Gwich’inDenaakk’eBenhti Kenaga’ and Holikachuk.

A visitor dropping by is likely to find Oline busy with her language lessons, turning Dinak’i written words into sentences describing the world around her. “I know the language,” she says, “but I want to learn to write it, so that kids in the future will have something to learn by. I’ve always had a desire to see people learn and get ahead.”

Motivating her own learning are childhood memories of her grandmother and mother, making their way in a world where sled dog teams ran the mail trail through Nikolai and her mother worked at a local roadhouse. “It brings back memories of mom and grandma, talking a long time ago,” Oline says of her own efforts to speak and write the Dinak’i language.

As a little girl attending school in Nikolai, Oline recalls being punished for speaking her language. “I had no interest in writing or speaking (Dinak’i) until just about a year ago. It just takes me to make up my mind to do something,” she says with a laugh. She enrolled in lessons through Doyon Foundation and has been working steadily with the goal of writing in Dinak’i.

“I’m constantly writing words down – words that I think are cool – and after a while I’ll write a sentence. It’s been exciting to learn,” she says. A recent afternoon had Oline observing the changing seasons: In Dinak’i she wrote, It’s windy and the leaves are falling. 

Consulting a dictionary helps. So does persistence. Oline says that compared with English, written words in Dinak’i can seem very long. Even an everyday word like “sewing” can send Oline to the dictionary to check her translation. “I still have trouble figuring out how to write some words,” she says. “I enjoy the challenge.”

A chance to work with schoolchildren last year convinced her that language revitalization efforts belong in the elementary-grade classrooms. She recalls two children – a fourth grader and fifth grader – so ready to learn that they acquired Dinak’i surprisingly fast. “More people will take the language once it gets into the classrooms, and especially with the young ones,” Oline says. “That’s my hope.”

Doyon Language Online develops introductory online lessons for Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Deg Xinag, Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana).

Doyon Languages Online is funded by a three-year grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), awarded in 2016, and an additional three-year grant from the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP), awarded in 2017.

As Doyon Foundation continues to grow our language revitalization efforts in the Doyon region, we believe it is important to recognize people who are committed to learning and perpetuating their ancestral language. We are pleased to share some of these “language champion” profiles with you.

If you know a language champion, please nominate him or her by contacting our language program director at foundation@doyon.com. Language champions may also complete our profile questionnaire here. You may learn more about our language revitalization program on our website, or sign up to access the free Doyon Languages Online courses here.

59_DF_FB_AutoGraphic_512x512Doyon Foundation held its board of directors election at its annual membership meeting on November 15 in Fairbanks. At that time, the board also voted to increase the number of board seats from seven to nine.

“As a small, private foundation, we rely on our volunteer board and committees to help us provide services and work toward our mission,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “Expanding the board means we have more talented people bringing their skills to the table.”

Sonta Hamilton Roach and LaVerne Demientieff were re-elected to the board, and newly elected board members include Jennifer Adams, Matthew Calhoun and Mariah Pitka-Jenkins.

These members join Jennifer Fate, Marie Cleaver, LaVerne Huntington and Aaron Roth on the Foundation board.

The Foundation extends its deep gratitude to exiting board member, Lanien Livingston, who has served on the Foundation board as president for the past seven years.

“We are very grateful for Lanien’s service on our board. Her leadership, ideas and dedication have helped grow the Foundation over the past seven years. With her support, we have expanded our scholarship program to serve even more students at a higher level, and are launching a groundbreaking online language revitalization project. We thank her, we will miss her, and we wish her the very best,” Miller said.

Doyon is supporting my endeavor toward a career in the electrical field”

spencerA Doyon Foundation student pursuing his certificate in industrial electricity, Spencer Brown is scheduled to graduate from the Alaska Vocational Technical School (AVTEC) in June 2020. His parents are Nadene and Chad Brown; Nadene is from the McGrath area and Chad is from Anchorage. His maternal grandparents are Alice Verdene and Richard Anslement, both of the McGrath area.

Spencer has received a competitive scholarship awarded by Doyon Foundation. He is a 2019 high school graduate from Enlightium Academy and lives in Seward, where AVTEC is located.

Spencer understands the power of setting goals. “My plans for the next six months are to stay focused on school, work hard and finish at the top of my class,” he says. Beyond that, he’s eager to enter the workforce and keep learning.

“Doyon Foundation graciously offered to help support my endeavor,” Spencer says. His scholarship helped cover costs of tuition as well as tools needed for AVTEC classes. “Doyon helped me overcome this challenge.”

A tour of AVTEC introduced him to the range of topics covered in the industrial electricity certificate. Day-to-day homework involves Spencer in practical applications of mathematical principles and theory.

“I love that I’m able to figure out such things as superposition, sine waves and Thevenin and Norton equivalents,” he says. “Everything I learn has a reason and a purpose. It’s an incredibly interesting and diverse field.”

Graduates in industrial electricity are in demand as construction and maintenance electricians, controls technicians, and marine engineers, among other careers. AVTEC’s program attracts detail-oriented students who enjoy solving complex technical projects – a passion Spencer discovered when he was 14 and helped his father with a building project.

Spencer continues to value teamwork. “I’d say the most fun part of industrial electricity is the cooperation among my peers to complete various labs and projects,” he says. Among the most challenging tasks was memorizing complex diagrams and functions in a mathematical logic class.

Students in Spencer’s field demonstrate proficiency in circuit analysis, including an ability to design, build, test and troubleshoot circuits and devices. Industrial electricity classes involve physics; industrial safety and health; renewable power; and an understanding of the National Electrical Code for construction and maintenance projects.

Founded in 1969, AVTEC is the only career and technical education center for post-secondary students statewide. “I would absolutely recommend AVTEC to anyone interested in the trades,” Spencer says.

While his time away from studies is limited as graduation day approaches, Spencer says that taking a break helps. “I’m putting all my efforts into studying,” he says, “but I do allow myself downtime.” He enjoys reading, hiking, fishing and composing music.

Whenever the going gets tough, ask for help, whether it’s from family, peers or Him up above,” Spencer says. He encourages other students to get enough rest, eat healthy foods, and avoid drugs and alcohol.

“Respect your body,” he says. “The effort you put into your studies will determine how successful you are at them. You are accountable for your actions.”

There are two opportunities available through First Alaskans Institute’s Indigenous Leadership Continuum initiative, 2020 Public Policy Fellowship (Juneau) and 2020 Al Adams Young Political Leader Fellowship (Washington D.C.). Application deadline is Friday, November 22, 2019.

Public Policy Fellowship Application for the 2020 Legislative Session

Application Due: Friday, November 22, 2019

First Alaskans Institute (FAI) is pleased to announce its 2020 Public Policy Fellowship (PPF) to place Alaska Native and rural Alaskans in Juneau for the 2020 Legislative session. This will mark the 12th year of partnerships with Legislators. To apply online visit here.

Purpose
The goal of the PPF is that emerging leaders will be familiar with the legislative process; understand their own histories; learn and use the skills of past, present and future leadership; and know the evolving issues that confront Alaska Natives and the State of Alaska. Participants will have hands-on experience working with the legislative and political process, creating a real-time two-way flow of information between the Alaska State Capitol and our Alaska Native communities.

Highlights of the Fellowship

  • 14 weeks in length, from January 21 to April 21, 2020
  • Travel provided to and from Juneau, AK
  • $120 daily wage paid bi-weekly
  • $750 monthly housing stipend (first & last months are prorated)
  • FAI Orientation and Legislative Ethics Training before start of fellowship
  • Full-time work schedule with occasional evening and weekend hours

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Duties & Core Competencies Required

  • Written/Verbal Communication: Capture and disseminate relevant information; Draft speeches; Draft legislation; Draft legislative citations (memorial, honorary); Draft and distribute District Newsletter; Provide oral testimony before committees; Attend committee hearings and provide written or verbal summaries to legislative staff.
  • Social: “Constituent Work” – communicate and work with constituents in the office or by phone/mail/email to respond to their concerns and interests; Problem solve; Attend committee meetings, constituent meetings and staff meetings.
  • Research/Analytical: Analyze legislation; Research; Track budget development; Follow bills and help draft or carry legislation; Track and research Alaska Native issues.
  • Office Management: Process emails; Process printed mail; Schedule meetings on Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, etc.

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Timeline

  • Application due date: Friday, November 22, 2019
  • Candidate interviews & reference calls: Monday, November 18 – Thursday, November 28, 2019
  • Final selection of fellows: Friday, November 29, 2019
  • Placement with host legislative office finalized: Tuesday, December 17, 2019
  • First Alaskans Institute Training: Wednesday & Thursday, December 18 & 19, 2019 (Anchorage)
  • Legislative Ethics Training: Week of January 16, 2020 (Juneau)
  • Public Policy Fellowship: January 21, 2020 – April 21, 2020 (Juneau)

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How to Apply
Successful applicants will be selected based on an application and interview. Applicants must submit ALL of the following:

  • Completed PPF application form online and attached documents listed below;
  • Typed biography describing personal, professional and family background no more than 250 words. Be sure to include English name, Indigenous name, hometown, culture, parents, grandparents, school, hobbies and passions at the very least;
  • Photo of applicant engaging in cultural activities, wearing regalia, or with their family;
  • Current resume no more than 2 pages;
  • Two current letters of recommendation from community members, colleagues, peers, teachers, professors, employers, supervisors, Elders, etc.;
  • Written or video essays (250 to 650 word limit, 1 minute 30 seconds to 3 minutes limit);
  • Copies of relevant training certificates or unofficial transcripts if still attending a post-secondary institution although there is no academic requirement to be eligible for the PPF. Official transcripts may be requested if you are selected as a Fellow; and
  • If Alaska Native/American Indian, please include a copy of your Certificate of Indian Blood or Tribal ID Card.

For more information

Please contact Ella Sassuuk Tonuchuk, Indigenous Leadership Continuum Coordinator, at 907-677-1707 or sassuuk with any questions.

2020 Census’s goal is to hire someone in every single community in the state. Students can earn money for their education during their time off work! The US census is recruiting and paying $28- 31 per hour. Students can also choose their own schedules and it is very flexible.

Apply at 2020census.gov/jobs.

Alyssa“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation”

 

An undergraduate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) scheduled to graduate with an associate degree in process technology in May 2020, Alyssa Sommer is the daughter of Fred Sommer, Jr. and Diane Evans-Sommer of Fairbanks. Alyssa’s maternal grandparents are Lily and Alfred “Dick” Evans of Galena. Her paternal grandparents are Dorothy and the late Fred Sommer, Sr. of Nulato.

Alyssa’s hometown is Fairbanks. She attends UAF with support from a Doyon Foundation competitive scholarship.

Among Alyssa’s lifelong ambitions has been to help run the Fort Wainwright power plant, where she has worked as a coal operator since August 2019. The plant is one of three units owned and operated since 2007 by Doyon Utilities LLC and supplying service to military sites in Alaska. Fairbanks-based Fort Wainwright is home to an electrical distribution system, a central heat and power plant, and a heat distribution system, among other services operated by Doyon Utilities.

Alyssa’s plans after graduation include advancing to boiler operations and controls at the power plant. Fort Wainwright is an Army installation that includes some 1,400 on-post housing units. Its civilian and military population totals about 11,000.

“I’m looking forward to learning and progressing,” says Alyssa, who enjoys tracing various boiler system components to gain greater insight into the unit overall. Daily tasks include unloading coal from rail cars; directing coal through the plant system; and inspecting equipment and hauling ash to the landfill. “From the first time I saw process technicians in action in 2011, I knew that was the job I wanted,” Alyssa says. She values the chance to work close to home and among welcoming coworkers.

“I would not have been able to reach my goals without Doyon Foundation,” Alyssa says. “Doyon Foundation has helped me start the journey in my desired lifelong field.” In 2016 she earned a certificate in welding from UAF and an associate degree in diesel mechanics from the University of Alaska Southeast. In each semester she was awarded Doyon Foundation scholarships.

Attending school full-time while working a physically demanding full-time job has Alyssa managing a hectic schedule. “It’s quite important to me to get in family time whenever I can,” she says. Going for long drives, taking walks, swimming, cooking and going to the movies are among ways that she manages stress while enjoying family and friends.

“Time has its challenges,” she says. “I never quite feel prepared at times. But I push forward. I try not to beat myself up if I don’t get the grade I want or if I find I need to take a break for a day.”

Her advice to other students: Remember that stress can undermine focus that’s needed to do well in school. “Try not to stress,” Alyssa says. “Take a day to relax when needed.”

Meet more of our students! Check out our more student profiles on our blog. 

Learn more about Doyon Foundation and our scholarships on our website!

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