August 2021


Doyon, Limited President and CEO Aaron Schutt (left) and Tanana Chiefs Conference Chief Chairman PJ Simon (right) present a $100,000 check to Doyon Foundation Executive Director Tiffany Simmons (middle) for the Foundation’s Health Scholarship Fund.

Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce a $100,000 donation award from Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC). 

“We at TCC value and understand the importance of investing in our future generations,” said TCC Chief Chairman PJ Simon. “We hope that this funding provides the chance for youth who want to pursue their career in the health field to do so.” 

The award from TCC is matched by a financial commitment from Doyon, Limited to dedicate $200,000 to the Foundation’s Health Scholarship Fund. “We have seen the significant value and need for health care professionals in our communities,” said Aaron Schutt, President and CEO of Doyon, Limited. “We are honored to be able to contribute to students’ success.” 

TCC and Doyon, Limited are joining forces to support and encourage shareholder students in the health field through the establishment of the Health Scholarship Fund at Doyon Foundation. With the expansion of TCC’s Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center set to open next year, and with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the need for an increase in the healthcare workforce, both organizations agree that supporting Alaska Native students in pursuing healthcare careers is a priority. 

“For years, we have seen the need in the health field growing and as we look forward, that need will continue to increase,” said Doyon Foundation Executive Director, Tiffany Simmons. “The funding will not only support shareholder students financially, it will encourage students to continue their education.” 

The additional funding allowed Doyon Foundation to award eight additional health competitive scholarships to students for the fall 2021 semester. 

For more information on Doyon Foundation and its scholarship programs, including the new Health Scholarship Fund, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact 907.459.2048 or foundation@doyon.com

Doyon Foundation is seeking interested and qualified applicants for our new accounting manager position. This is a full-time position based at our office in Fairbanks.

Working closely with our executive director, the accounting manager will be responsible for accounting services for the Foundation. A typical workday may include filing reports, maintaining files, processing accounts receivable transactions, reviewing expense reports, and performing bank reconciliations, among other duties. View a detailed list of essential functions in the job description.

Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or equivalent experience, experience with Microsoft Excel, and knowledge of accounting systems. Learn more about applicant qualifications in the job description.

If you are looking for a new opportunity, and would like to join a team dedicated to providing educational, career and cultural opportunities for Doyon, Limited shareholders, we encourage you to view the job description and apply today.

Or if you know someone who might be the perfect fit for this position, please help us spread the word!

Interested applicants should create a talent bank profile on the Doyon, Limited website and then complete the online application. This position will be open until filled. 

To learn more about Doyon Foundation and our work, visit www.doyonfoundation.com, or contact us at foundation@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.

“The more I learn and get to converse with Elders, the more I feel fulfilled and connected to community”

Annauk Olin, Language Champion

Aŋayuqaaka Nuluqutaaġlu Mark Pollock-lu. Ataataaka Koonuglu Nugaġlu. Annauk Olin is the daughter of Maggie and Mark Pollock. Annauk’s maternal grandparents are Elizabeth and Herbie Nayokpuk. Her paternal grandparents are Rose Marie and David Pollock. Annauk’s mother’s family is from Shishmaref and her father’s family originally is from France and Scotland.

A fluency coach and curriculum writer living in Anchorage, Annauk attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and a master’s degree in linguistics. Her main language is Iñupiaq (Shishmaref and North Slope dialects); Annauk is learning Denaakk’e (Koyukon) with her husband’s family.

Doyon Foundation: Congratulations on your recent graduation from MITILI, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Indigenous Language Initiative. What was the program like? How does it fit into your efforts today?

Annauk Olin: The MITLI program offers a formal study of theoretical linguistics alongside an independent study of an Indigenous language. I would encourage Alaska Native language learners to apply. I was able to study syntax, phonology (the systems of sounds within a language), language acquisition, and second- and third-language acquisition.

Uqautchiq Iñupiatun kiŋuvaanaktaaksrautikput. The Iñupiaq language is our birthright. Language learning is the center of my life because it will inform our generation and next generations about who we are as a people spiritually and culturally. Right now, I’m contracting with school districts and colleges to teach immersion methods, to develop curriculum, and to work as a fluency coach.

DF: You believe that language is medicine.

AO: Yes. Revitalizing endangered languages is hard. Yet the more I learn and get to converse with Elders, the more I feel fulfilled and connected to community. Language may be difficult to access now but the more available we make it for future generations, the more spiritually and culturally grounded they will become.

I speak to my 2-year-old son primarily in Iñupiaq and he inspires me to continue building my knowledge. His name, Daał, means “sandhill crane” in Denaakk’e. My husband is Koyukon Athabascan so we’re integrating more Denaakk’e language at home. After marrying into an Athabascan family, I feel a responsibility to help my son learn his Denaakk’e language too.

DF: And your own beginnings with language learning? Who helped along the way?

AO: My mom taught Iñupiaq immersion in Utqiaġvik when I was very young. Although she did not speak to me in Iñupiaq primarily, her love of our language stayed with me my whole life.

Dr. Edna Ahgeak MacLean, the Elder who worked to complete the North Slope Iñupiaq dictionary among many other learning materials, taught me to be a conversational speaker of North Slope Iñupiaq through an adapted master-apprenticeship over the last four years. Georgianne Oonak Merrill taught me much of what I know of my family’s Shishmaref Inupiaq dialect through translation work with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG). Ronald Aniqsuaq Brower taught me Iñupiaq through stories and grammar at Iḷisaġvik College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Many other Elders and friends have helped me sustain Iñupiaq language speaking and learning. My graduate work in linguistics has allowed me to study existing linguistics material on Bering Strait and Malimiut Iñupiaq dialects. I hope to create grammars and curricula for Iñupiaq dialects with limited learning materials.

DF: The master-apprenticeship program – MAP – is grounded in traditional one-on-one teaching and also takes into account that Indigenous languages may not be spoken much in the home. MAP seems very promising for Alaska Native language revitalization.

AO: A few master-apprenticeship relationships exist, but the method is fairly new to Iñupiat Nunaat. I hope to create introductory materials for an Iñupiaq Master-Apprenticeship Program. Curriculum and a supportive network are critical for its success. Once they’re in place, graduating Iñupiaq speakers from a MAP and placing them in an Iñupiaq immersion school is our best shot at passing on the fluency of Iñupiaq to future generations.

DF: How has a MAP approach worked for you?

AO: Master-apprenticeship techniques have encouraged me to speak primarily in Iñupiaq to Elders, especially with Dr. MacLean. I call our apprenticeship adapted because my speaking was heavily supported through studying grammatical materials and Iñupiaq stories.

I also used self-written Iñupiaq conversations before each apprenticeship meeting as a springboard for learning about related topics. For each meeting with Dr. MacLean, I would record our conversations and listen to repeatedly while going for walks, cooking or cleaning. I also write flashcards for different verb endings and put them all over my house. Sometimes I’ll memorize endings while I’m doing another household activity.

DF: Language learning isn’t compartmentalized then.

AO: Effective language learning and speaking is a meditative practice for me. In addition to recorded conversations, my son and I try to listen each week to recorded Iñupiaq stories. We write or draw while we listen.

Ritualizing language is so important, so I pray every night in Iñupiaq and usually wake my son up with Iñupiaq songs in the morning. Creating videos of everyday activities can help others learn and internalize language too. While reading and writing have been helpful to learning Iñupiaq, listening has probably been the most important for becoming a speaker.

DF: Language learners so often say it’s important to be part of a group, to be with others who are also committed to the same goal.

AO: I’m fortunate to be a member of Iḷisiqativut, a grassroots Iñupiaq language learning collective for adult second-language learners. Many of my dear friends are also dedicated to language learning so we build on each other for support. We’ve hosted two-week Iñupiaq language intensives in all three regions of Iñupiat Nunaat. My main role at Iḷisiqativut was to facilitate immersion trainings and to write immersion curriculum.

In 2019, I started working with the Alaska Public Interest Research Group to translate census material into the Shishmaref Iñupiaq dialect. Most materials available for self-study are in the North Slope Iñupiaq dialect, so working with AKPIRG is a chance to use my knowledge of another dialect to learn my family’s way of speaking. The AKPIRG group I’m with includes speakers from the Bering Strait Iñupiaq dialect. We’ve worked together to translate materials about the 2020 presidential election and COVID-19 vaccination.

DF: What advice do you have for language learners, especially those who may find starting out is really challenging?

AO: Don’t let anything distract you from learning language. We need to think creatively about how to bring Iñupiaq into all the places where English is currently used.

DF: It sounds as if your efforts draw on several foundations – two Alaska Native languages and a formal study of linguistics, which we associate with Western scholarship.

AO: Learning Iñupiaq is connected deeply to my heart and emotions. When I first started learning to speak, I navigated many feelings of anxiety and depression, which are directly related to the ongoing Euro-American settler-colonial project.

Relationships between our Elder and younger generations have been severed, so that when it comes to speaking our Indigenous languages those ties need healing and regeneration. Without creating a way to process this trauma, it can become incredibly daunting and frustrating to learn our languages.

Sometimes people have shamed me for speaking a different dialect from my family or for learning linguistics, which is through the lens of Western education. Don’t forget that our ancestors spoke many dialects before colonization and that we can use both Indigenous and Western tools to give us a better shot at sustaining our languages.

DF: How are these insights shaping your day-to-day progress?

AO: When I feel over my head in learning, I often have to take breaks and enjoy things like reading literature, being outside, or working with my hands. I also try to facilitate time in our learning community to process intergenerational trauma. An Elder once told me that we need to heal together and not try to navigate these feelings alone.

DF: That returns us to the idea that language learning is a birthright.

AO: Bringing our languages outside the classroom and into our homes and on the land is important. We can list all the reasons why it may feel impossible to learn our languages, or we can list all the ways we will actively and concretely reclaim our language.

About Doyon Languages Online

Through the Doyon Language Online project, Doyon Foundation is developing introductory online lessons for Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Deg Xinag, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross), Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), Hän, Holikachuk and Nee’aanèegn’ (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.

About the Language Champion Profile Series

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 haytona@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.

2021 Scholarship Award Recognition Video Premiere September 10

Join Doyon Foundation to celebrate the start of a new school year and recognize our fall 2021 scholarship recipients! Mark your calendar and plan to tune in for the virtual premiere of our 2021 scholarship award recognition video on Friday, September 10 at 1 p.m. AKDT. The video will premiere on our Facebook page, and also be posted to our YouTube channel for viewing later. RSVP to our Facebook event or add the event to your calendar!

We’ll have welcomes from Doyon, Limited and Doyon Foundation leaders, a special prayer for students, words of inspiration and encouragement from a student speaker, announcement of all our fall 2021 basic and competitive recipients, and recognition of our donors, who make our scholarships possible.

Be sure to watch until the very end, when we draw the names of the 20 students selected to receive Lenovo ThinkPads, generously donated by designDATA and the Google American Indian Network. If you are a Doyon Foundation student who needs a computer for school, be sure to complete our need survey by Friday, August 27, at 5 p.m. We will then review the submissions and eligible students will be entered into a random drawing, with the winners announced at the end of our scholarship award recognition video on September 10.

We hope to see you at the premiere on September 10 to celebrate the start of the school year and our 2021 – 2022 our scholarship recipients. Remember to RSVP to our Facebook event or add the event to your calendar!

Candidate application deadline: Friday, October 8

Doyon Foundation is seeking interested and qualified candidates to serve on our board of directors. Board service is on a volunteer basis. The deadline for candidates to apply is Friday, October 8, 2021, at 5 p.m. AKDT. The online application is available at www.doyonfoundation.com.

Members of Doyon Foundation’s all-volunteer board serve an important role, guiding our efforts to provide educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identify and quality of life for Doyon shareholders. Many of our board members are previous scholarship recipients who find board service to be a fulfilling way to give back, express their gratitude in a tangible way, and support the efforts of the current generation of students working toward their goals for the future.

“I received Doyon Foundation scholarships during my undergraduate and graduate education. Doyon Foundation is one of the main reasons that I was able to continue my education all the way to the PhD and I want to give back and help other Doyon shareholders reach their goals,” shares Matt Calhoun, one of our board members.

Qualifications

Candidates seeking election to the Doyon Foundation board must be:

  • A Doyon, Limited shareholder
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Familiar with the Foundation’s vision, goals, mission and purpose, which are detailed on our website
  • Committed to carrying out the roles and responsibilities of a board member, which are detailed below

We are specifically interested in candidates with experience in accounting, higher education, information technology, language revitalization, nonprofit governance and operations, portfolio management, vocational education, and/or workforce development. While these skills are preferred, candidates are not required to have experience in these areas, and all qualified and interested candidates are encouraged to apply. Additionally, candidates residing in a rural community within the Doyon region are especially encouraged to apply. Please note that, as some board work is conducted remotely, computer and online access is strongly encouraged.

“After many years of school and working, I felt that it was time for me to serve on a volunteer board in order to give back to the Foundation that has helped me so much as I was earning my degrees,” shares Jennifer Adams, secretary/treasurer of the Foundation board.

Important Notice

Please note that, under federal laws governing private foundations, family members of Doyon Foundation board members are NOT eligible to receive a Doyon Foundation basic or competitive scholarship during their term on the board. Family members are defined as the board members’ spouse, ancestors, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the spouses of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Current Doyon Foundation scholarship recipients are also not eligible to serve on the board.

“I was a recipient of the Doyon Foundation scholarships while I was completing my undergraduate degree,” shares Sonta Roach, vice president of the Foundation board. “Now, I feel a strong desire to give back and contribute as a board member.”

Role and Responsibilities

The role of a Doyon Foundation board member includes:

  • Defining and overseeing the Foundation mission and keeping it relevant to the needs of our community
  • Approving programs and services and monitoring their effectiveness
  • Providing strategic guidance to the organization and the executive director
  • Ensuring financial solvency and helping raise resources
  • Selecting, supporting and annually evaluating the executive director
  • Ensuring continuous board improvement
  • Upholding the mission, vision and values of the Foundation
  • Contributing skills that help the Foundation make progress on planning
  • Consistently working toward and producing results related to the Foundation’s strategic focus areas, which include providing consistent measurable results, diversifying and growing revenue streams, increasing shareholder educational opportunities, enhancing operations, and revitalizing languages and traditional Native values

Foundation board members commit to:

  • Attend quarterly board meetings
  • Participate in the board’s annual retreat
  • Help to organize and participate in a staff recognition event
  • Participate in at least one board training event and an annual evaluation to identify ways in which the board can improve its performance
  • Serve on two board committees (standing or ad hoc)
  • Complete committee and board work outside of meetings
  • Represent the Foundation at various events
  • Speak on behalf of the Foundation at events, if asked
  • Make an annual personal gift that is meaningful and significant
  • Understand the board member roles and responsibilities and become sufficiently knowledgeable about the organization and its operations to make informed decisions
  • Read the materials sent to the board and come prepared to board and committee meetings
  • Arrive at meetings on time and stay for the full agenda, unless the board or committee chair has been notified in advance
  • Ask for clarification on any matters or material, as needed, before making a decision
  • Listen carefully to other board members and staff with an open mind and an objective perspective
  • Actively work toward decisions and solutions that are in the organization’s best interests
  • Respect the confidentiality of the board’s business
  • Make an effort to regularly check in with the executive director
  • Read the board manual and be familiar with its contents
  • Commit to one of three optional responsibilities, including volunteering at a Foundation fundraising or outreach event; being an ambassador and speaking at a community engagement; or attending a Foundation-hosted event

“Education fuels our future opportunities,” shares Jennifer Fate, Foundation board president. “It provides the tools to build individual as well as community and cultural strength. I am honored to serve our shareholders on the Doyon Foundation board and work to increase their opportunities.”

Application Instructions and Deadline

Applications are accepted using an online form, accessible at doyonfoundation.com. The form does not take long to fill out and candidates are able to upload resumes and/or other materials.

Please note that candidates are required to submit an updated resume along with their completed application.

It is highly recommended that candidates familiarize themselves with the Foundation and our work by reviewing the Foundation’s website, blog and social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, prior to submitting an application.

The deadline to apply is Friday, October 8, 2021, at 5 p.m. AKDT.

“I am very grateful for the support that the Foundation gave me when I was pursuing higher education,” shares board member, Aaron Roth. “Serving on the board is a way of giving back and giving thanks for that support.”

For more information, please visit doyonfoundation.com or contact Tiffany Simmons, Doyon Foundation executive director, at 907.459.2048 or simmonst@doyon.com.

A sailor’s advice: Keep studying and stay the course 

A seaman on escort tugboats based in Valdez, Jordan Irwin is the son of Michael Irwin of Nenana and Veronica Lord Irwin of Yakutat. His maternal grandparents are Gilbert and Nellie Lord of Yakutat and his paternal grandparents are Jack and Jenny Irwin of Nenana. Jordan’s family includes his girlfriend, Melanie Rodriguez, and her three children, aged 14 to 21.

Jordan Irwin traces a lifelong love of the water to his growing-up years in Juneau, where he attended Juneau-Douglas High School and began working on commercial fishing boats. Jobs on the North Slope and as a truck driver led him to look for a career that combined interests in travel, the outdoors and the sea. Although both of his parents earned advanced degrees, Jordan left high school with just one credit to go. He earned his GED in 2011.

“I was sick of school,” he recalled. “I like to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, doing photography. Being in an office, behind a computer, just wasn’t for me.” He credits his girlfriend, Melanie, for inspiration to continue his education at 41. “I believe everything happens for a reason,” Jordan said.

In 2013, he returned to school, first to attend the AVTEC Maritime Training Center, a Coast Guard-approved training center in Seward, and then in 2020 to enroll in Seattle-based MITAGS, the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies. A short-term vocational scholarship from Doyon Foundation helped Jordan complete radar training at MITAGS in 2020. He’s working toward additional credentials, eventually leading to the rank of captain or licensed third mate responsible for driving a vessel. “I know I can do it,” Jordan said.  

A professional highlight in 2010 involved him in oil-spill response at Point Lena, where a cruise ship ran aground near Juneau and sank in 1952 with an estimated 300,000 gallons of bunker fuel and oily water aboard. Jordan was employed by a contractor working to extract hazardous material, which was transported to a waste-oil recycling center. Salvage required divers to pump oil at 200 feet and took about a month, Jordan said, adding, “Nothing leaked.”

Today, Jordan works on tugboats operated by Edison Choest Offshore (ECO), a marine transportation services company contracted to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. ECO provides spill response and escort tugboats for North Slope oil tankers transiting Prince William Sound. A typical workday may see Jordan help dock or undock two tankers a day as they arrive or depart the oil pipeline terminus at Valdez. Tug escort begins and ends at Cape Hinchinbrook, about 80 miles from the Valdez port.

Merchant mariners like Jordan advance by completing a series of credentials, known as endorsements, to qualify for higher wages on larger vessels and in highly skilled categories such as the bridge, where navigation occurs. To realize his goal of becoming captain, Jordan is completing courses at MITAGS and the Alaska Maritime Training Center as his budget and work schedule permit. Typical shifts are two months at sea followed by one month at home. MITAGS courses may run four weeks and cost $10,000 each, prompting Jordan to rely on help from his parents as well as scholarships from Native corporations in addition to Doyon Foundation.

He’s optimistic about his career and realistic about his time and finances. “The maritime industry will always be around,” Jordan said. “There are great opportunities.” Long stretches away from home are hard, but worth the sacrifice so that his family has a future, he said. His advice to other students: “Keep studying and stay the course.”

Doyon Foundation is pleased to provide scholarship funding to vocational students like Jordan. In addition to the short-term vocational scholarship, which cover the cost of the course or training up to $3,000, vocational students are also eligible for the Foundation’s basic scholarships, which range from $1,600 to $2,400 per semester, and competitive scholarships, which range from $7,000 to $11,000. Learn more about the Foundation’s vocational scholarship opportunities on our blog.

Ethel Beck cutting fish, as seen in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeDpzAiG6XA

Thank you to our speakers, sisters Ruth Ridley and Ethel Beck, for sharing our August 2021 Native Word of the Month in Hän!

Ruth: Łuu gąyy nįdhänn? = Would you like some dry fish?

Ethel: Ą̈hą̈̀ʼ, łuu gąyy shëjèhtląą. = Yes, Iʼd like some dry fish.

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 Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Holikachuk and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (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!