December 2020


“The biggest challenge is to grow Denaakk’e teachers”

Hᵾkk’aaghneestaatlno Lorraine David is the daughter of the late Joe and Celia Beetus of Hughes. Her paternal grandparents are the late Little Beetus and Ida of Hughes; her maternal grandparents are the late Jimmy and Annie Koyukuk of Allakaket. 

Lorraine and her husband, Richard David of Allakaket, have five children: Tillila Beetus, Leonard Bergman, Shara Shewfelt, Richard (RJ) David, Jr., and the late Sharon David. Lorraine and Richard have 12 grandchildren (nine grandsons and three granddaughters). Lorraine’s siblings include sisters Alberta Vent, Helen Attla, Dorothy Vent, June Walker and Peggy Patterson; brothers Bob Beetus, Sam Beetus and Wilmer Beetus; and the late Arlo Beetus and the late Jimmy Beetus. 

A recipient of Doyon Foundation scholarships, Lorraine attended the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in human resource management and is employed by the Fairbanks Native Association, where she directs the Indigenous Language Project. Lorraine’s language is Denaakk’e (Koyukon)

Doyon Foundation: Family has played an important role in your language learning. How has that background helped shape your commitment to Denaakk’e teaching and learning?

Hukk’aaghneestaatlno Lorraine David: My father and mother, Joe and Celia Beetus, and Elders Julia Oldman and Maria Dummy from Hughes and Catherine Attla from Huslia were instrumental in teaching me to speak Denaakk’e. It was my first language — I wasn’t introduced to English until I was 6 years old. 

When children are grounded in their language, culture and traditions, they have a sense of belonging and are more academically inclined. They’ll be proud of where they came from and who they are. If I can help one child live a good healthy life, I will have fulfilled my dream. 

DF: You’re an accomplished, lifelong teacher. What’s a language learning strategy that successful students tend to have in common?

HLD: Speak the language as much as you can. 

DF: You’ve devoted much of your time to developing activities where people may do just that. 

HLD: When I worked at UAF for 30 years, I taught Denaakk’e to college students in the evenings for six of those years. At Anne Wien Elementary School in Fairbanks, I created a Denaakk’e classroom that completed its third year in 2020. There are two primary teachers and one classroom aide; I teach them to teach the language to 3 to 5 year olds. 

I was involved with the Denaakk’e Hᵾdelnekkaa language group for parents and other adults and I taught the language part time for two years at Effie Kokrine Charter School in Fairbanks. I helped with “Molly of Denali” by translating and recording Denaakk’e words and phrases. (“The Molly of Denali” series aired in 2019 and was the first-ever TV show to feature an Alaska Native child as protagonist.)

Whenever anyone wants to know how to say and write a word or phrase, I help by making and sending a recording. As long as I’m able, I’ll help whoever wants to learn to keep our language alive. 

DF: That’s a substantial legacy. What’s on your mind as you look ahead?

HLD: I’m nearing retirement age soon so someone else needs to take over. The biggest challenge is to grow Denaakk’e teachers. I’m fortunate to have the same staff for the past year — they’re learning the language and learning to teach. But staff turnover is a challenge.

Getting parents and other community members involved, hopefully in a future language school, will help grow teachers to teach Alaska Native languages. Doyon Foundation is doing an amazing job in creating resources for Alaska Native languages. Keep it up!

DF: You’ve mentioned the importance of recordings in Denaakk’e.                 

HLD: I never used to record the language because our belief was that if you record your voice, you’re giving away your spirit. I spoke to my mom about it before she passed and she gave me permission to record. Nowadays I record as much as I can for whoever wants to learn. 

About Doyon Languages Online

Through the Doyon Language Online project, Doyon Foundation is developing 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). The project officially launched in summer 2019 with the first four courses, now available for free to all interested learners.

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.

“Goals influence all of your decisions”

A software developer based in North Pole, Shane Derendoff is the son of Cece Derendoff-Nollner and Francis Nollner, both of Huslia. His maternal grandparents are Angeline Happy and Richard Derendoff, both of Cutoff-Huslia. Cutoff, a flood-prone site, was established in the 1920s and eventually relocated to the area known today as Huslia.

Shane has served as president of the Doyon Foundation board and is a past director of the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center in Fairbanks. His hometown is the Koyukon Athabascan community of Huslia.

Shane Derendoff believes that setting goals for yourself — including goals that others may consider far-fetched — are a key to steady success.

“It never hurts to ask,” he said. “These goals influence all of your decisions from that point forward, most times subconsciously.” Pursuing higher education is among self-assigned goals he values, but he’s realistic about obstacles.

“My challenge has been to keep motivated, to keep pushing to completion,” he said. “Often it’s easier to just get a job and make a wage. But sticking to your educational goals will pay long-term dividends and raise your potential career ceiling.”

Shane earned a bachelor of science degree in 1998 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was a recipient of Doyon Foundation scholarships. Before enrolling in the master’s of business administration (MBA) program at Alaska Pacific University (APU), where his emphasis is information technology, he served as technical service manager at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and owned Koyukon Consulting. He anticipates graduating from APU in 2022.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Shane went on to volunteer for several years on the Doyon Foundation board. “I gained key nonprofit experience,” he said. “Once I started my MBA, Doyon Foundation has funded me each step of the way.”

Shane plans to continue working as a software developer while attending APU and then start a consulting practice after graduation. His interests are management and nonprofit and leadership training. He enjoys seeking out other professionals whose early-career experiences mesh with his own. And he makes time for traditional activities such as hunting, wood-cutting and helping Elders.

“Doyon Foundation has been a key part of my educational and professional background,” he said.

Each month, Doyon Foundation profiles a different student or alumni. If you are interested in being highlighted in a student profile, please click here to complete a short questionnaire. To complete the alumni profile questionnaire, please click here.

It’s the holiday season and the end of the year is quickly approaching, making it a great time to make a gift to Doyon Foundation. Not only can you take advantage of possible charitable giving tax deductions (speak with your tax advisor), you will also be supporting students and language revitalization efforts throughout the Doyon region! A gift to Doyon Foundation is also a wonderful way to recognize or remember a loved one this holiday season.

There are three easy ways to make your end-of-year gift to Doyon Foundation:

If you’re looking for other easy ways to support the Foundation, consider:

Your generosity will provide financial assistance to students pursuing their educational goals, which will set them on a successful course for the rest of their lives. A gift to Doyon Foundation will also forward efforts to revitalize the Native languages of the Doyon region, ensuring they survive and thrive for future generations.

As scholarship recipient Rosemary Messer shared, “This scholarship changed my life and was the difference to help me achieve a career and financial security.” Hear more student stories and get inspired by watching our fall 2020 scholarship recipient recognition video.

Thank you for your support, and happy holidays from all of us at Doyon Foundation!

The New Year is almost here, which means it is nearly the start of Pick. Click. Give. season!

As you complete your 2021 PFD application, we encourage you to consider making a Pick. Click. Give. pledge to Doyon Foundation. These dollars go directly to our general scholarship fund, which provides basic scholarships ranging from $1,600 for part-time students to $2,400 for full-time students.

These scholarships support not only students pursuing traditional four-year degrees, but also certificates, associate degrees and vocational training. We invite you to visit our blog to read profiles featuring students who have benefitted from our donors’ generosity!

As a small, private foundation, we rely on support from our donors and volunteers to achieve our mission provide educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders.

Here are some highlights of what Pick. Click. Give. gifts have helped us achieve in the past year:

  • Awarded 676 scholarships totaling $839,034 to 421 students (the second highest amount in the past 10 years!)
  • Celebrated 77 graduates, including an impressive four doctorate students
  • Launched our Doyon Languages Online project with the release of five online language-learning courses, which are now available for free to all interested learners
  • Presented $50,000 in grants to help fund language revitalization projects throughout the Doyon region

Thank you for supporting Doyon Foundation!

Alumni survey prize winner Charlotte James (left) with Jennifer Mayo Shannon of Doyon Foundation

A big “thank you” to the 90 Doyon Foundation alumni who completed our short alumni survey this fall and were entered to win prizes! And congratulations to all of our winners, selected in a random drawing and listed below.

Set of five “I am learning my language” handkerchiefs with tote:

  1. Justine Attla
  2. Jada Carroll
  3. Anna Chamberland
  4. Phillip Demientieff
  5. Amy Durny
  6. Esther Frykman
  7. Diana Riedel
  8. Larissa Sommer
  9. Erica Whitney

$100 Amazon gift cards:

  1. Anastacia D’Andre
  2. Charlotte James
  3. Keifer Kanayurak
  4. Kristen Moreland
  5. Ginessa Sams
Keifer Kanayurak, prize winner

People of the Water wool blankets from the Athabaskan Heritage Collection™ Spirit Keeper Series™:

  1. Helena Jacobs
  2. Susan Robinson

Your participation helps us better understand where our alumni are today and how your education helped you get where you are now. It also allows us to connect with our alumni and stay in touch on Foundation news and opportunities to engage and support current and future students.

While the contest has ended, it’s never too late to connect with the Foundation. If you have ever received a Doyon Foundation scholarship, please complete our short alumni survey today!

Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, selecting the alumni survey winners in a random drawing

Watch our 2020 Fall Scholarship Award Recognition video!

At Doyon Foundation, we look forward to our scholarship award ceremony every year, but this year we had to do things a little differently to keep everyone safe. However, we still believe it is important to celebrate our hard-working scholarship recipients and celebrate our generous donors.

We invite you to take a few minutes to watch our fall 2020 scholarship award recognition video, featuring welcomes from Doyon, Limited President and CEO Aaron Schutt and our Board President Jennifer Fate, photos and quotes from our students, a listing of our amazing donors, and a heartfelt prayer for our students going forward in pursuit of their dreams.

Then, help us spread the word by liking, sharing and tagging students you know. Congratulations to all of our students, and thank you to all of our supporters!

Watch our video

Photo courtesy of Allan Hayton

Baasee’, thank you, to our speaker Eliza Jones for sharing our December 2020 Native Word of the Month in Denaakk’e.

Huyh = Winter

Huyh neets do’ots’en’. = It is coming to mid-winter.

For more translations, view our Native word of the month archives on the Foundation website.

We also invite you to access free online language-learning lessons by signing up for Doyon Languages Online! We currently have lessons available for HolikachukDenaakk’eBenhti Kenaga’ and Gwich’in, as well as a special set of Hän lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. All interested learners may sign up and access the courses at no charge – sign up today!