Doyon Foundation Events


Doyon Foundation hosted a language gathering for Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) languages on June 5, 6 and 7, 2018, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks – Tok Campus. The group of 25 participants met from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. all three days. The workshop, which was free and open to all, was a great opportunity for those wanting to learn or improve their skills in these languages.

Instructors Irene Arnold and Cheryl Silas, along with Elders and speakers from both languages, introduced learners to essentials of Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana). Topics covered included basic literacy, conversation and listening.

“The most meaningful thing that I took away from the gathering was being there with the Elders and listening to them speak the language fluently with each other and being able to share that knowledge with the younger people that were there,” said participant Adena Cronk of Northway.

Among the activities, attendees learned and practiced introducing themselves in the language (see the Upper Tanana introduction worksheet here, and Tanacross introduction worksheet here), and translated “I am learning our language” with Elders. Tanacross instructor Irene Arnold shared a DVD titled “K’anech’oxdekdiigh: I’m Not Going to Teach You,” a collaboration between the Tanacross community and trained linguistic specialists from the Alaska Native Language Center. View the video here.

“The main takeaway for me was learning my introduction,” said participant Chance Shank of Dot Lake. He added, “I was glad to meet and speak with the other people at the gathering who are fluent in the language.”

Participant Peg Charlie of Tanacross agreed: “For someone who understands the language and grew up with it, it felt really good to be amongst our people and it was a good feeling to hear the language.”

At the gathering, Doyon Foundation staff also introduced the Doyon Languages Online project, which is working to create highly accessible online language-learning lessons for the endangered languages of the Doyon region.

There are currently two phases of the project. Phase one, which has funding support from the Administration of Native Americans (ANA), is focusing on five of the 10 Doyon region languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Hän, and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in). Phase two, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Education – Alaska Native Educational Program (ANEP), will increase the number of people who speak the Doyon region languages of Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross), Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana), Deg Xinag and Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim).

The Foundation is currently seeking people interested in working as content creators and linguistic consultants on the ANEP-funded phase of Doyon Languages Online. Find more information and apply on the Foundation blog.

The ANEP-funded phase of Doyon Languages Online is a partnership with the Alaska Gateway School District (AGSD), and this gathering served as a kick-off to the three-year project. AGSD Superintendent Scott MacManus joined the group discussion, and is very enthusiastic about working together on this project.

“It was exciting to see first hand, the building momentum for the work being done by the language revitalization group this summer, and Alaska Gateway School District is thrilled to be a partner in this important and life-changing project,” MacManus said.

The Iditarod Area School District is another grant partner, and plans are underway for a similar gathering in their region for Deg Xinag and Dinak’i languages.

Before the gathering concluded, the group decided on a series of action items for moving forward over the next couple of years. These included:

  • Building on the language network across Alaska
  • Greeting others in the language
  • Making labels in the home as a reminder to stay in the language
  • Connecting with other learners
  • Creating a language domain in the home (a place in the home where you will only speak in the language)

“It gave me a boost to want to work more with the language,” said participant Lorraine Titus of Northway. “What I enjoyed the most was the flexibility of the event; we got things done but we didn’t have to follow an agenda.”

“Tsin’ee to all who joined us in Tok for the Nee’anděg’ and Nee’aanèegn’ language gathering,” said Diloola Erickson, Doyon Languages Online project manager. “The work that came out of the gathering was amazing and we’re excited to start working more with the participants and their language communities in the future.”

The Foundation offers a special thank you to the Elders present at the gathering, including Avis Sam of Northway, Roy David of Tetlin, Rosa Brewer of Northway, Cora Demit of Northway and Lorraine Titus of Northway.

For more information on Doyon Foundation, Doyon Languages Online or upcoming language revitalization events, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com.

 

Born and raised in Fairbanks, Julian Thibedeau is a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He’ll earn a certificate in rural human services in 2019 and begin his associate’s degree in the Tribal Management Program at UAF in the fall of 2018. Julian’s mother is the late Ruth Maxine Thibedeau; his grandparents are the late Richard “Shorty” Thibedeau of Stone Lake, Wisconsin, and the late Ruth Lillian Mayo of Rampart. 

Julian, 29, is a full-time maintenance technician at Doyon, Limited. He received a Morris Thompson scholarship for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

JulianDoyon Foundation: Julian, you were away from school from several years before earning a Doyon Foundation scholarship and pursuing your degree. What prompted you to go back to school?

Julian: It had been 10 or 12 years since I’d been to school. College was really foreign to me. I’d say to myself, “Man, what I am even doing here?” It was as if I was in strange territory!

I’d just put my best foot forward, give it my all and not be afraid to ask questions. I’d like to thank my professors and classmates who really helped introduce me to college. It took dedication and perseverance to see it through.

Doyon Foundation: And Doyon Foundation scholarships helped hold you accountable?

Julian: I wanted to keep earning that scholarship to complete my degree and of course I’d have to keep my grades up. The scholarship kind of helped keep me in check because I knew my funding depended on my grades.

I’d like to say thank you to Doyon Foundation. I don’t think it would have been possible to go to school worry free and stress free otherwise.

Doyon Foundation: How did you manage tough courses? Everyone faces them eventually.

Julian: Courses with a lot of writing and research were a challenge. Classes in library science, introduction to databases and resources – these require being able to cite information and I wasn’t familiar with that. My strategy was to just do the assignments. Even if I knew they weren’t 100 percent right, I’d just give it my best effort. I had really helpful professors.

Doyon Foundation: You’re looking forward to finishing the semester and starting an internship with First Alaskans.

Julian: My internship starts June 10 with an orientation week in Anchorage, then an assignment in Fairbanks for the summer. I’d like to intern in behavioral health or community outreach.

I’ll also go fishing during the summer at Rampart with my daughter, Adriel. She’ll be 7 and I want her to have a connection with the land. I think there’s a lot of healing within traditional knowledge, learning from Elders, knowing who you are and where you come from.

Doyon Foundation: You’ve said that Adriel inspires you. How do you mean?

Julian: My daughter is on my mind because I’d like to see the advancement of Alaska Native people, not just my generation but generations to come. In the long-term, I’d like to mentor at-risk youth and those who fall through the cracks. My sobriety and recovery make me want to give back to the community that I used to take away from.

I’m Athabascan, and I drum and sing Athabascan songs. I’d like to go across the country, parts of the United States and Canada, and learn more songs.

Doyon Foundation: Giving back is something you’re committed to.

Julian: Yes. In my free time, I speak at the Fairbanks Native Association’s Youth Treatment Center. I come from that background. Sometimes the youth need people to talk to who know what it’s like to be in treatment.

I’ve also organized a volunteer street cleanup every year for the past three years in downtown Fairbanks and the neighborhood south of downtown. I chose those places because they get overlooked.

I went to the mayor and said that if I got the litter bags and the bags were filled up, would public works pick up all those yellow bags. The answer was yes. It was just another way for me to give back.

Doyon Foundation: Any advice for students who identify with your experiences?

Julian: We all have that inner voice that says you can’t do it, that you’re not worthy. For instance, accepting scholarships and grants felt to me at first as if I was taking a handout. I had to suck up my pride, but then I realized that these things were an opportunity – and not only an opportunity but an obligation to your people, to your tribe, and to yourself.

My advice is simple: Believe in yourself!

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students earn college degrees. 

The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

Doyon Foundation student Shawna Hildebrand attends the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), where she’s earning a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in rural development. Her parents are Edith and Darell Hildebrand of Nulato. Shawna’s maternal grandparents are the late Eleanor and Hughey Kriska of Koyukuk, and her paternal grandparents are Edith and Victor Nicholas of Nulato.

When she’s not in school, Shawna enjoys fishing and processing fish, among other cultural activities. Her hometown is Nulato. Shawna graduates in December 2018.

Shawna Hildenbrand
Doyon Foundation:
Keeping up with your courses became a significant obstacle this year. Can you say more about that?

Shawna Hildebrand: The biggest challenge this year has been the ability to do school work. I know that sounds bad, but during the fall semester I had surgery on my elbow, making it impossible to type for about two months. Even with a cast on.

I’m especially thankful for my professors – who were understanding of my grammatical mistakes – and assistive technology that permitted me to get all my homework done while I was healing. I definitely came to appreciate Doyon Foundation scholarships that allowed me to obtain the technology I needed to do my schoolwork and take part in class.

Doyon Foundation: That willingness to persevere sounds a lot like your advice to other students.

Shawna: The most important thing is to remember that you can do anything you set your mind to. That’s such a cliché, but it’s true.

Take the time to do your schoolwork and find a schedule that works for you. Don’t take your professors for granted either; they’re there to help you succeed and will work with you on assignments you are having difficulty with. The biggest thing is you need to be sure you’re going to school for something you love.

Doyon Foundation: You’ve experienced that first-hand.

Shawna: I put off deciding on a master’s program for five years because I couldn’t commit entirely to a master’s in counseling. I spent time looking at various degree programs and ultimately decided on the Master of Public Administration (MPA) at UAS after talking to some family.

The program intrigued me and fell in line with what I wanted to do with my career. I decided to jump feet first and here I am, less than two years later, about to graduate with my MPA in rural development.

Doyon Foundation: The degree seems to combine your professional work, your volunteer efforts and your long-term goals.

Shawna: I’m currently learning the world of self-governance at Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), where I’m employed as a self-governance operations coordinator. I’ve always said I would go to college and return to serve our people in whatever capacity they need me to.

Working full time and going to school full time haven’t left a lot of room for other activities, but I do volunteer as a committee co-chair at the Alaska Statewide Violence and Injury Prevention Partnership (ASVIPP).

ASVIPP is dedicated to reducing injury-related morbidity and mortality by providing leadership and expertise in the preparation, implementation, coordination and periodic review of injury prevention efforts.

I became involved because of my work in injury prevention and suicide prevention with TCC, and through partnerships with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. While my past work experience involved prevention, I find myself moving more toward assisting tribes in their self-determination efforts.

Doyon Foundation: You’ve earned Doyon Foundation scholarships since your undergraduate years. What has the Foundation’s help meant to you?

Shawna: I graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, and Doyon Foundation funded a large part of my degree. When I applied to UAS as a graduate student, Doyon Foundation again awarded me a scholarship, making student loans less of a burden. I appreciate these scholarships for helping offset the cost of my education.

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students earn college degrees. 

The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

Justin

Justin Woods, Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipient

A Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient and graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), Justin Woods is the son of Marsha Woods of Fairbanks. Justin plays professional hockey as a right-handed defenseman in the ECHL with the Jacksonville, Florida-based Icemen.

After earning his degree in business administration in 2017 from UAF, Justin joined the ECHL Icemen, one of the professional hockey teams affiliated with the National Hockey League. Affiliation means that Icemen team members are positioned to play in both the NHL and ECHL.

Justin earned a Morris Thompson scholarship from Doyon Foundation and credits the scholarship for helping him afford books and other materials as he worked toward his degree. His goals include building his resume and playing professional hockey.

In 2014, when he was 20 years old, Justin underwent cancer treatment, a period that he says has been his greatest obstacle so far. Among lessons he’s learned: “Don’t take anything for granted and give it your all!”

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students earn college degrees. 

The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classicraises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

 

38_DF_DLO Language Gathering Promotion_blog2

Join Doyon Foundation for the Nee’andeg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana) Language Gathering, to be held June 5 – 7, 2018 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks – Tok Campus from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily.

The three-day language workshop will focus on the Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana) languages. This free, all-ages gathering is open to anyone who wants to learn or improve their skills in these languages. 

Instructors Irene Arnold and Cheryl Silas will introduce learners to essentials of Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana). Topics will include basic literacy, conversation and listening, and introduce the Doyon Languages Online project. 

There is no cost to attend, but participants should register in advance at doyonfoundation.com.

For more information, contact Allan Hayton at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162. 

Doyon Languages Online is funded by Doyon Foundation and the Alaska Native Education Equity Program, U.S. Department of Education. 
Jacy

Jacy Hutchinson, Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipient

A Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient since her undergraduate days, Jacy Hutchinson is completing a doctorate in clinical-community psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).

Her mother is Dianna Merry of Fairbanks; her maternal grandparents are Renee Merry of Rampart and Peter Merry of Coos Bay, Oregon. Jacy’s father is Chad Hutchinson of Fairbanks; her paternal grandparents are John and Debra Hutchinson of Falkton, South Dakota.

Jacy will graduate in 2022. She is the recipient of a Morris Thompson scholarship from Doyon Foundation. 

Doyon Foundation: What was it like to have Foundation scholarships throughout your schooling? Why is this financial help important to you?

Jacy: Thanks to Doyon Foundation, I was able to focus on my education by going to school full time. I’m very appreciative of this support with the many expenses of school throughout my journey.

Doyon Foundation: You’re doing research, serving as a teaching assistant and pursuing a practicum. What’s involved in each?

Jacy: I’m completing a practicum as a student clinician in the Psychological Services Clinic at UAA. Because of this experience, I feel confident with my decision to pursue a career in clinical-community psychology. I’ve found it highly rewarding to help people work toward their goals and support them in improving the quality of life.

In addition to the practicum and spring semester classes, I’m working as a teaching assistant in a lifespan development class for undergraduates. I’ve enjoyed being a TA because I have been able to enhance my teaching skills and practice public speaking. I have found that teaching is a fantastic way to learn the material.

My research project is aimed at identifying common pathways that lead to homelessness in Anchorage so that interventions to prevent homelessness are better informed. I’ll be spending the summer in Iceland studying the Icelandic language and continuing to research factors that contribute to homelessness.

In the fall, I plan to travel with my family during hunting season to pick berries. I’ll return to school after that to complete coursework and a community internship in Anchorage.

Doyon Foundation: Your program helps students develop an awareness of cultural contexts and issues that affect rural and indigenous people. Students become scholars as well as practitioners. How are your goals and education linked?

Jacy: After completing my Ph.D., my goal is to become a licensed clinical psychologist in Alaska, working for an Alaska Native corporation or in a community clinic.

I’m primarily interested in working with people suffering from anxiety and related disorders – among the most prevalent psychological disorders.

I’d also like to contribute to my community by developing programs or preventative measures. Each can be powerful ways of reaching more people. I’m particularly interested in working with programs that prevent homelessness and reduce prison reentry rates.

Doyon Foundation: When it comes to relieving stress, you’re a believer in organizing and planning.

Jacy: That’s right. My biggest challenge during my education has been learning to balance the varying responsibilities that come with higher education. Thoughtful planning has helped me overcome this challenge, including planning time to exercise, socialize and have fun.

I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family and friends, playing with my dogs, hiking and learning to ski. Finding time is not always easy, but it’s essential.

Another challenge is knowing myself and being mindful of how much work I’m actually able to take on.

Doyon Foundation: Your advice to other students involves the connection between body and mind.

Jacy: It can be easy to neglect healthy living, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping habits. I’d also remind students to use university resources. During my undergraduate years, writing centers and math tutoring helped me countless times.

Taking care of our physical and mental health actually helps us strive academically. Live a balanced life!

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students earn college degrees. 

The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classicraises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

Selina

Selina Sam, Morris Thompson competitive scholarship recipient

Selina Sam will graduate in May 2019 with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). Her parents are the late William and Janice Sam of Tanana. Her maternal grandparents are the late James and Elizabeth Folger of Tanana, and her paternal grandparents are the late Frank and Elma Sam of Alatna.  

Doyon Foundation: You’re among students who’ve earned the Foundation’s Morris Thompson Scholarship, a competitive award. What has that meant to you?

Selina: Being the recipient of a Morris Thompson scholarship is such an honor. In 2017, I volunteered at the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, where I helped with hole watching. I learned that there are many donors who believe in the value of education and how it can benefit shareholders of Doyon, Limited.

I’ve received a Doyon Foundation scholarship almost every semester while I was enrolled in the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and working toward my bachelor’s degree in rural development. I graduated in 2017. These scholarships have allowed me to focus on my schoolwork rather than worrying about making financial ends meet.

Doyon Foundation: The golf classic is the Foundation’s annual fundraiser for scholarships. It’s among several volunteer outlets for you.

Selina: I sit on two boards, Tozitna, Limited, which is the Tanana village corporation, and the Interior Alaska Campus Council (IAC-C). The Interior Alaska Campus, based at UAF, is committed to lifelong learning for rural Alaskans and Alaska Native communities, culture and ways of life.

I started volunteering for each board about a year ago because I believe it’s important to be involved with things that affect you and your livelihood.

I also enjoy volunteering with the Tanana Dog Mushers Association, where I serve as a trail marshal. And I volunteer with the UAF Festival of Native Arts, an annual event planned by Alaska Native students and involving Alaska Native students from around the state.

Doyon Foundation: You’re volunteering, going to school full-time and working too.

Selina: I currently work as a community outreach facilitator and program adviser at the Interior Campus of UAF while working online toward my master’s degree at UAS.

My plans are to finish the spring semester, take two classes over the summer and head back to school full-time in the fall. After graduation, my goal is to obtain a public administration job within the University of Alaska system.

Doyon Foundation: Public sector jobs are a big part of Alaska’s economy. What attracts you to your field?

Selina: Public administration will serve as a great degree for me as I currently work in the public sector. It’s important to understand how government works and affects our state and university system.

Doyon Foundation: What advice do you have for other students?

Selina: Learn to take care of yourself throughout the semester to prevent burnout. Be aware of important deadlines, including scholarship deadlines. Never be afraid to ask for help. There are people whose job it is to help you succeed.

Doyon Foundation: You’ve applied this advice to your own college career.

Selina: In the fall of 2015, I lost my parent. Instead of dropping out, I motivated myself to finish my undergraduate degree earlier than originally planned. I changed my major and found something I really enjoyed.

Morris Thompson Portrait

The late Morris Thompson

Named in honor of the late Morris Thompson, former president and CEO of Doyon, Limited, the Morris Thompson Scholarship, awarded by Doyon Foundation, has helped more than 200 students earn college degrees.

The annual Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic raises money for this competitive scholarship fund. This year’s golf classic takes place June 21 and 22 in Fairbanks. To learn about opportunities to support the event as a sponsor or volunteer, visit the Foundation website for details. 

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