Doyon Foundation News


We’re so excited to announce the 20 winners in our first-ever computer giveaway! The following students were selected in a random drawing to receive Lenovo ThinkPads:

  1. Dreana Taylor
  2. Eva Burk
  3. Annie Williams
  4. Lisa Wentz
  5. Bryan Sam
  6. Buddy North
  7. Donetta Tritt
  8. Lorretta Lolnitz
  9. Nadia Al-Shewear
  10. Joseph O’brian
  11. Josie Heyano
  12. Latisha Roberts
  13. Kai Whitmore
  14. Linda Nicholia
  15. Ashley Merica-Nazurak
  16. Cesa Agnes
  17. Jade Titus
  18. Roselie Carrol
  19. Charlotte James
  20. Leah David

A very special thank you to donors designDATA and the Google American Indian Network for making it possible for us to provide these computers to help our students succeed in their educational journeys!

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.

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.

This year, Doyon Foundation is partnering with the Great Alaska Duck Race, which takes place in Anchorage on September 11. (Please note this duck race is separate from the Rubber Duckie Race in Fairbanks!)

The event is organized by Alaska EXCEL, a nonprofit providing educational opportunities to rural Alaska youth. For every duck we sell, Doyon Foundation will receive half of the proceeds, which will go to support our scholarship program. Visit our fundraising page to buy a duck and help us earn some bucks!

Duck race tickets range from $10 to $20, and the grand prize is $10,000! Last year, there were winners from all over the state. In fact, the $10,000 grand prize was won by a woman in Fairbanks! Only 12,000 tickets will be sold, so don’t wait – get your tickets today on our fundraising page, https://bit.ly/DoyonFoundationDuckRace.

$10 ticket prizes:

  • 1st place duck wins $5,000
  • 2nd place duck wins $500
  • 3rd place duck wins $250 

$20 ticket prizes:

  • GRAND PRIZE duck wins $10,000 
  • 2nd place duck wins $1,000
  • 3rd place duck wins $500

Winners don’t need to be present to win, but if you want to join in the fun, be at Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, September 11 at 11 a.m. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch the livestream on the race website!

We’re also looking for volunteers to help us meet our volunteer commitment as an event partner. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Selling duck race tickets at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, three-hour shift on a day of your choosing from August 20 to September 6, two volunteers needed
  • Tagging ducks at a TBA location in Anchorage, September 9, 3 – 7 p.m., at least one volunteer needed
  • Race set up or clean up, Ship Creek in Anchorage, September 11, 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., at least one volunteer needed

If you are interested in volunteering, please call 907.459.2048 or email foundation@doyon.com with your preferred date, time and any questions.

Thank you for your support. Go buy a duck – and good luck!

More than $130,000 raised for scholarships at June 17 event

Doyon Foundation supporters came together to raise money for scholarships at the 2021 Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic, which marked the 20th anniversary of the fundraiser.

After a year hiatus due to the pandemic, the event returned with strong support, including 116 golfers on 29 teams, more than 60 sponsors and more than 50 volunteers. The 2021 golf classic, held June 17 in Fairbanks, raised approximately $131,000 for the Morris Thompson competitive scholarship fund, named in memory of the late Morris Thompson, who served as president and CEO of Doyon, Limited from 1985 – 2000.

The 2021 golf classic took place at Chena Bend Golf Course on Fort Wainwright, where team 15 (Drew Mazzolini, Kirk Butcher, Andrew Honea and Paul Mazzolini) and team 30 (Connie Johnson, Martha Hanlon, Dee Liebl and Janette Smith) tied for first place.

The festivities continued at Pike’s Landing, where donors showed their generosity at the Fund the Future live donation event, and live and silent auctions, which featured items including a stay at Peppermill Resort, a Holland America cruise and a Denali getaway.

Attendees also heard from student speaker, Sheena Tanner, who graduated in December 2020 with her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Sheena shared how watching her mother obtain a degree inspired her own educational journey. “My mother graduated from UAF with her teaching degree when I was 8 years old,” she said. “Seeing the process firsthand of how beneficial an education is inspired me to earn my degree and start my career in a field that I am passionate about.”

Sheena took her time choosing her educational direction and completing her degrees. “I knew that my strengths were in organization and writing but I wasn’t ready to choose a degree program (after graduating high school),” she said. “I learned not to be impatient when it comes to my education and to assess my workload and move forward with what my schedule allowed.”

Her patience and persistence paid off, as Sheena now holds an Associate of Arts degree and a bachelor’s in criminal justice, in addition to her master’s degree. Doyon Foundation scholarships helped her along the way. “Because I was receiving a scholarship from Doyon Foundation, I used that as a driving force to get my work done, especially when the going got tough,” she said. “I would tell myself that I’m not just doing this for myself, I have others depending on me and others that have invested in me. It was a good reminder to keep moving forward.”

Today, Sheena encourages those around her to keep moving forward with their own education, including her niece, daughter and husband, who are all enrolled in programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“I’m so proud of my niece, daughter and husband, and especially thankful for Doyon Foundation and all of those who have contributed to the Foundation, as those contributions help to make educational goals possible,” Sheena said. “Education can lead to opportunities.”

The Foundation extends a special thank you to major sponsors KeyBank, Key Equipment Finance, Doyon Family of Companies and Council Tree Investors, as well as Robin Renfroe and Howie Thies, who celebrated 20 years of volunteering, and golfer Woody Wallis, who has participated in 19 of 20 golf classic events.

Since inception, proceeds from the Morris Thompson Memorial Golf Classic have provided 214 scholarships totaling $556,180 to higher education students, including 2020 – 2021 recipients: Shane Derendoff, Cory LePore, Hannah Bagot, Andrianna Albert, and Calee Stark

The golf classic will return to a two-day format next year, with events taking place Thursday and Friday, June 23 and 24, 2022. Watch the Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com, for 2022 event information or contact 907.459.2000 or golf@doyon.com with questions. 

We’re giving away 20 laptops to Foundation students!

With the shift to virtual work, classes and social interaction over the past year, computer and online access is more important than ever. At Doyon Foundation, we know this can cause hardship for students who do not have easy access to these resources. 

In an effort to support our students in a comprehensive way, we are pleased to launch our computer gifting program! Thanks to the generosity of donors designDATA and the Google American Indian Network, we have a pool of Lenovo ThinkPads to gift to students at no cost, to help them succeed in their educational journeys.

To be eligible to receive a computer, applicants must:

  • Be enrolled to Doyon, Limited, or the child of an original enrollee.
  • Be accepted to an accredited college, university, technical or vocational school.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.0 (undergraduates), 3.0 (graduate/master’s) or 3.25 (specialists/doctorates).
  • Have applied or been awarded a Doyon Foundation scholarship in the past.

This program is need-based. Students who do not currently have access to a computer, and need one to pursue their educational goals, are invited to complete our online student computer need survey. Students who cannot access the online form may contact us at 907.459.2049 or scholarships@doyon.com and a Foundation staff member can complete the online form by proxy.

The deadline to complete the computer need survey is Friday, August 27, at 5 p.m. We will then review the submissions and eligible students will be entered into a random drawing to receive one of 20 Lenovo ThinkPads.

We will announce the computer recipients during our scholarship award recognition presentation, which will take place virtually on Friday, September 10. Watch the Foundation website and social media for more details on the event, or sign up for our email updates to receive the latest news.  

Remember – complete the computer need survey online by Friday, August 27, at 5 p.m. If you have questions or need help completing the form by proxy, contact us at 907.459.2049 or scholarships@doyon.com.

After more than a year of being unable to meet in person, Doyon Foundation hosted an ANEP Language Gathering in Tok in early June 2021.

The goal of the three-day gathering was to record audio for use in Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) and Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) courses being developed as part of the Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project.

The majority of the necessary audio files were recorded during the recent gathering. As next steps, the Foundation will arrange to bring language teams to Fairbanks to finish out the audio recordings and begin video recordings.

We thank the language gathering participants, including Glen Demit, Cora Demit, Verna Hagen, Irene Arnold, Polly Hyslop and Chance Shank, as well as volunteer Annastasia Johnson, for sharing their time and knowledge.

Once completed, the Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana) and Dihthaad Xt’een Iin Aanděeg’ (Tanacross) courses will join the currently available Doyon Languages Online courses in Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon), Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) and Holikachuk, as well as a special Hän course based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. Additional courses in Hän, Deg Xinag and Denak’i (Upper Kuskokwim) are also in development.

Doyon Languages Online courses are available for free to all interested learners who want to learn the endangered languages of the Doyon region. Learn more at www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

View our 2021 graduate yearbook!

Get to know the Doyon Foundation Class of 2021 in our interactive graduate yearbook, and help celebrate our 2021 graduates in our inspiring graduate video! The yearbook was just released on our website and the video just premiered on our YouTube channel.

This year, we celebrated more than 60 Doyon Foundation graduates from high school, certificate, associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs. We are so proud of their efforts and accomplishments, and are excited to introduce and celebrate them in this year’s graduate yearbook and video. Please watch and share!

If you have graduate information additions or corrections, please contact us at scholarships@doyon.com.

Watch our 2021 graduate video!

There are very few children’s books featuring the Alaska Native languages of the Doyon region, but thanks to the work of student Natilly Hovda and her partnership with Doyon Foundation, there is a new addition to the bookshelf.

During her First Alaskans Institute internship at Doyon Foundation in 2019, Natilly wrote and illustrated a children’s book incorporating Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), one of the Athabascan languages spoken along the Tanana River in Alaska. The book, titled “Łuk’a Ts’iłki One Fish, Łuk’a Notik’a Two Fish, Łuk’a Delk’ezri Red Fish, Łuk’a Lek’wdli White Fish,” is now available as an electronic flipbook and a downloadable PDF on the Doyon Foundation website, www.doyonfoundation.com. A video featuring Natilly reading her book is also posted on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. A limited number of hard copy books are also available upon request from the Foundation.

“My goal overall was to inspire students to learn more about their own culture and the multitude of Indigenous cultures around Alaska and providing some simple terms they can use daily to help them learn Benhti Kenaga’,” shares Natilly, a Doyon, Limited shareholder and previous Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient. “I wanted to inspire people to learn more about our cultures. Not just our traditions, our languages or our songs, but our history and to grow an appreciation of the environment around us.”

Natilly with her fiancé, Jeremy, and their chihuahua, Rozie

“There are a very limited number of books involving Native languages for young readers, so this book fills part of a huge void and hopefully inspires more writers to author books in Indigenous languages,” says Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.

To further help young students learn the language, Natilly also created a series of flashcards using words and illustrations from the book. The flashcards are now available as a PDF for easy downloading and printing on the Doyon Foundation website. A series of interactive flashcards, featuring the voice of David Engles, are in development and will be available on the Foundation’s website and Instagram.

The book and flashcard project is in line with Natilly’s long-time goal of becoming an elementary school teacher in Fairbanks. Natilly, who was born and raised in Fairbanks, is a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She will graduate with an associate’s degree in performing arts this summer, and expects to complete the elementary education program in 2024.

“I plan to use the knowledge I have gained from Doyon Foundation and my schooling to educate students on the importance of preserving wildlife and learning about Alaska Native cultural traditions, language and history,” says Natilly, who is the daughter of Cosmo Ketzler, and the granddaughter of Nancy Ketzler-Haskins and Thomas Haskins, and the late Don Ketzler. 

Natilly is not the only talented member of her family. Her cousin, Claire Ketzler, also interned at the Foundation in 2019. During Claire’s internship, she wrote and illustrated a short comic in Gwich’in, based on a Gwich’in story, “Shihtthoo Tr’ik, The Young Brown Bear Woman.” Read more about Claire’s project on the Foundation blog.

These projects are among the many efforts of Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, which is dedicated to ensuring that the Native languages of the Doyon region survive – and thrive – for future generations.

To learn more about the Foundation’s language revitalization efforts, or to view or download Natilly’s book and flashcards, visit www.doyonfoundation.com. To request a hard copy of her book, contact the Foundation at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.

13 recipients receive $5,000 awards for language revitalization projects

Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce its 2021 Our Language grant recipients. A total $65,000 will be awarded to 13 organizations to support language revitalization projects across the Doyon region. The 2021 Our Language grant recipients include:

Athabascan Fiddlers Association

Project title: Native Language Digital Archive

This project will work to preserve spoken examples of Alaska Native languages for use in current and future efforts to revitalize them throughout Interior Alaska. The project archivist will extract 1,000 audio files from “Word of the Day” and “Phrase of the Day” programs. Audio files to be posted on KRFF website.

Beaver Village Council

Project title: Canvas Canoe Making Project

This project will build traditional canvas canoes, documenting the process and the Gwich’in words and phrases for each step. A 20-page booklet with simple sentences describing each activity will be produced and shared through social media.

Birch Creek Tribal Council

Project title: Birch Creek Elder Stories

This project will record five life stories from Elders in the Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) language. Stories will be transcribed in English, capturing the story in the Elder’s own words. A PowerPoint presentation will also be created, showing the Elder’s video story in Gwich’in and the written version side by side. The presentation will be made accessible on YouTube or other social media sites.

Circle Tribal Council

Project title: Circle Elder Stories

This project will record Elders or fluent individuals in the community and produce a DVD for distribution. Stories will have accompanying lessons to include the alphabet, numbers, colors, animals and traditional activities, such as muskratting, beaver trapping, fishing, and fish wheel building.

Dodi Zrunh Consulting, LLC

Project title: Dratakh Chelik

This project will create a Dratakh Chilik (Crying Song) song book based on a CD from the 1970s that has 30 songs. This song book will be easy to read for all age groups, while giving a meaning of the words in the songs. In addition, the composer and who they made the song for will be named.

Holy Cross Tribal Council

Project title: Ałixi Gitr’idalyayh “We are Singing Together”

This project will record children of Shageluk/Anvik/Holy Cross/Grayling singing in Deg Xinag from the songbook, Gileg. The goal is to have more Deg Xinag songs sung at events such as weddings, potlucks, school settings, the Athabascan Fiddle Festival and on social media.

Hughes Village Council

Project title: Denaayeets (Our Breath)

This project will host weekly cultural gatherings with at least one Elder language teacher present. The goal is to have high community participation in these gatherings so that all community members will understand basic Denaakk’e vocabulary and practical phases. 

McGrath

Project title: Dinak’i Curriculum Project

This project will provide teaching materials for McGrath School, including Native language flashcards, Native language classroom aids for classroom displays, Native language daily-word flip calendar, and hall posters for the promotion of Native language.  

Minto Village Council

Project title: Benhti Kenaga’ Documentaries

This project will make two short documentaries, featuring the sled making process, while identifying sled parts and verbs in Denakenaga’, and how to produce brain-tanned smoked moose skin.

Nulato Tribal Council

Project title: Lower Koyukon Learning Materials

This project will develop a practical and accessible set of language-learning materials, including a short guide for writing and pronouncing written Lower Koyukon, a more extensive account of the structure of Lower Koyukon verbs, and a full primer, or introductory handbook, for use with the Koyukon Athabaskan Dictionary.

Tanan Ch’at’oh

Project title: The Tanan Ch’at’oh Project

The goal of this project is to launch a full immersion Gwich’in language nest, Tanan Ch’at’oh, in Fairbanks in the spring 2021. The language nest will educate children in the Gwich’in language up to kindergarten. A Tanan Ch’at’oh intern will be hired and they will be expected to increase their own fluency in Gwich’in by learning the phrases that students are using in the classroom and using those phrases with the students. This will increase the fluency of one staff member to support student learning.

Tetlin

Project title: Tetlin Village Council Culture Camp

The purpose of this project is to revitalize the Upper Tanana language through a culture camp in Tetlin, in which 15 youth participants will engage in Elder-led language sessions. During the culture camp, Elders and adults will teach traditional singing and dancing sessions. 

Yukon Flats School District

Project title: Gwich’in Curriculum Project

The purpose of this project is to revitalize the Gwich’in language by teaching participants how to introduce themselves in Gwich’in, helping students create a family ancestry history and present their family ancestry, and learning and practicing with Elders. At least five Elders and five youth will participate in the language project.

Doyon Foundation, with support from Doyon, Limited, awards Our Language grants annually, in a continuing effort to revitalize the endangered Native languages of the Doyon region. Doyon region tribal governments/tribal councils/communities; nonprofit Alaska Native organizations, societies and community groups; and Alaska Native cultural, educational and recreational organizations/centers were eligible to apply.

The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region are all severely to critically endangered, and will be lost within the span of a few generations if no action is taken. These languages are 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, Inupiaq and Nee’aanèegn’ (Upper Tanana).

For additional information, visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.

The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center and Doyon Foundation have partnered to offer “Language Journeys,” a new series of online discussions on the Morris Thompson Center platform featuring Alaska Native language speakers from across the Interior sharing experiences with their traditional languages, what inspired them to learn them, and what they would like to see for the future of the languages. Episodes will air the last Friday of each month at 12 p.m. AKST on the Morris Thompson Center’s website.

The premiere episode of this series aired on April 30, 2021, and featured Denaakke’ and Holikachuk language speaker, Tristan Madros. Tristan grew up in both Kaltag and Nulato around many Elders who spoke their Native languages. This experience inspired him to learn Denaakke’ and Holikachuk. Allan Hayton, the Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director and moderator of the series, joined Tristan in discussing the significance of one’s connection to their Native language.

Please visit www.morristhompsoncenter.org/events/ to view this program and both upcoming and past cultural programs. You can also sign up for email updates about future events at the website.

These programs are proudly brought to you by the partnership between Doyon Foundation and the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.

Doyon Languages Online courses available for free to all interested learners

Doyon Foundation is pleased to announce the release of the expanded Holikachuk language-learning course. The expanded course is the latest release from the Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project, which is developing online courses for the languages of the Doyon region. The courses are available for free to all interested language learners; sign up at doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

Part one of the Holikachuk course was released in June 2019, and included five units, each with five lessons of content, reviews and unit assessments, as well as seven conversational videos with subtitles in English and Holikachuk, and 15 culture and grammar notes. Part two adds units six through 10 to the already published content.

With very few fluent speakers remaining, development of the Holikachuk language-learning course was perhaps the most challenging – and one of the most important – efforts of Doyon Foundation’s Doyon Languages Online project.

“The Holikachuk content creation team was in a difficult position in comparison with the other languages this project focused on. While language is still a part of the community in Grayling, the most fluent Holikachuk Elder, Wilson ‘Tiny’ Deacon, passed away in 2012. Thankfully, there are still others who have a working knowledge of the Holikachuk language, so between archival recordings and memories of cherished Elders who remain, the content creation team drafted, proofed and recorded 10 units of material,” said Allan Hayton, director of the Foundation’s language revitalization program.

The Foundation extends a special thank you to the Holikachuk content creation team, Elizabeth Keating and Giulia Oliverio-Deacon, with special contributions from Tristan Madros, Elizabeth Painter, Mary Deacon and Harriet Nicholas; as well as the Organized Village of Grayling; Tribal Assistant Rachel Freireich; Chief Ivan Demientieff; Grayling School; Shirley Clark; Doyon, Limited; the Alaska Native Language Center and Alaska Native Language Archive; and all the people who worked with the Holikachuk language from the 1970s to today. Their work makes this course possible.

The expanded Holikachuk course joins other currently available courses in Benhti Kokhut’ana Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana), Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), as well as a special set of Hän language lessons based on the work of the late Isaac Juneby. Interested learners are encouraged to sign up to access the courses at www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo.

The Foundation and its team of content creators and linguists are in the process of finalizing additional Doyon Languages Online courses in Holikachuk, Hän, Deg Xinag, Dinak’i (Upper Kuskokwim), Nee’anděg’ (Tanacross) and Née’aaneegn’ (Upper Tanana).

Doyon Languages Online is a partnership between Doyon Foundation and 7000 Languages, a nonprofit that supports endangered language learning through software donated by Transparent Language. The project is funded by grants from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and the Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP).

Doyon Foundation is encouraging new users to sign up and existing users to continue their learning with the DLO On the Go Contest. Between now and June 30, Doyon Languages Online learners earn one prize entry for every unit they complete. All users will then be entered into a random drawing for the chance to win prizes, including an iPad mini, iPod touch and Apple gift card. Learn more and sign up at https://bit.ly/DLOontheGo.

For more information on the Holikachuk course and the Doyon Languages Online project, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com/dlo or contact Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, at 907.459.2162 or haytona@doyon.com. For assistance signing up for or using Doyon Languages Online, view the instructional video series on YouTube.

Tiffany Simmons to assume Doyon Foundation executive director role May 17

Doyon Foundation and Doyon, Limited are pleased to announce Tiffany Simmons as the nonprofit organization’s new executive director. Simmons will assume the role, based at the Foundation’s office in Fairbanks, beginning Monday, May 17, 2021.

“Doyon Foundation is delighted to welcome Tiffany Simmons as our new executive director, to lead and grow the Foundation to the next level,” said Jennifer Fate, president of the Foundation’s board of directors and secretary of the Doyon, Limited board. “Tiffany brings a wealth of skills in program development, workforce services, culturally driven initiatives, strategic partnerships, and educational scholarships – all critical growth areas we care about at the Foundation. We are very excited to have Tiffany fill this key leadership position in the state.”

A Doyon, Limited shareholder, Simmons is Central Koyukon Athabascan and was raised in the Yukon River communities of Koyukuk and Galena. She is the daughter of Marie Simmons and the late James Walldow, and her grandparents are the late Sidney and Angela and Jennie Huntington. Simmons raised her two children, Traven and Tessa Sweetsir, in Fairbanks, where she currently resides with her husband, Harold Attla.

Simmons graduated from the Galena City High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has extensive experience working with tribal members and tribal governments in various management and senior leadership positions. In her free time, Simmons enjoys beading, sewing, teaching others to bead and sew, and getting out on the rivers and land.

“Over 20 years ago, the Doyon Foundation provided invaluable support to me in various ways as I experienced obstacles in the beginning of my educational journey,” Simmons said. “I am excited to be in a role where I can now return that support to fellow shareholders as they pursue their academic dreams.”

Doyon Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1989 by Doyon, Limited, the Alaska Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska. As the private foundation for Doyon, Limited, it serves the educational and cultural needs of Doyon’s shareholders and their children. Since inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $11.6 million in scholarships to students pursuing higher education and vocational training. Through the Foundation’s language revitalization program, established in 2012, efforts are underway to revitalize the languages of the Doyon region, which represent half of the 20 Native languages in the state of Alaska.

Learn more about Doyon Foundation and its efforts at www.doyonfoundation.com.

Submit auditions online by May 14 deadline

Doyon Foundation is working with WGBH Boston to produce two dubbed episodes of the PBS Kids’ show Molly of Denali in two of the Native languages of the Doyon region: Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in).

Doyon Foundation is currently seeking actors to record the character voices for three lead roles: Molly, Tooey and Trini, as well as various adult and minor roles. Actors will be compensated. No previous acting experience is required. While actors do not need to be fluent speakers of Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in), those with familiarity or connection to the languages are preferred. Language coaches will be provided.

Interested actors should download one of the script excerpt options from the Doyon Foundation website, then record and submit an audio recording of their audition, along with a current headshot and resume. Auditions should be submitted via the submission form posted at www.doyonfoundation.com. Auditions will be accepted through the deadline of Friday, May 14, 2021.

Audition tip: If you have an iPhone, you can use voice memos to record the audition. Be sure to speak clearly and smile when you are speaking – it helps bring added energy to your audition!

The voice recording will take place in Fairbanks, Alaska. While actors do not need to be from Fairbanks, please note that travel and accommodations will not be provided to actors from outside the area.

Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa (Gwich’in) versions of two previously produced Molly of Denali episodes will be created; each episode features two stories. The episodes will be utilized in Doyon region language revitalization efforts.  

The Molly of Denali project is one of the current efforts of Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program. The 10 ancestral languages of the Doyon region, including nine Athabascan languages plus Inupiaq, represent half of the 20 Native languages in state of Alaska, and are all endangered. Through efforts such as Molly of Denali, Doyon Languages Online, and the Our Language grant program, Doyon Foundation works to revitalize the Native languages of the Doyon region and help endangered languages thrive for future generations.

For more information, please visit www.doyonfoundation.com or contact Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, at haytona@doyon.com or 907.459.2162.

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