Doyon Foundation News


Spring 2018 scholarship application deadline coming up November 15

 

Doyon Foundation will soon roll out a new streamlined, user-friendly online scholarship application process. Students will use the new application system starting with the spring 2018 application deadline; scholarship applications are due Wednesday, November 15 for basic scholarships for the spring 2018 semester.

Scholarship applications are not currently being accepted as the Foundation transitions from the previous system to the new one. The previous scholarship portal on the Foundation website is no longer accessible as the Foundation transfers scholarship data to the new system.

While the exact launch date is unknown, the new portal is expected to be available in the next few weeks. Students will be contacted directly with details on accessing and using the new system.

Applicants will find the new system to offer a more streamlined, user-friendly experience. For example, through the new system, students will receive automatic reminders of upcoming deadlines and items needed to complete their applications. Letters of recommendation can also be uploaded directly to the scholarship portal. The new system will also offer better scholarship reporting and management for Foundation staff.

“We chose this new system because it has a simple, intuitive design and is easy to understand and navigate,” said Doris Miller, the Foundation executive director. “Our hope is that it will make applying for scholarships even easier for our students.”

For more information, watch the Foundation website and Facebook page, or contact foundation@doyon.com or 907.459.2048.

Complete survey by early bird deadline on September 29 for a chance to win $100 Visa gift card!

Doyon Foundation’s mission is “to provide educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders.” In support of this mission, we are conducting an education survey to better understand the needs of our students as they work toward their educational goals and prepare for their future careers. Take the survey here.

Microsoft Surface Pro 1 Tablet

Survey respondents will be entered to win prizes including this Microsoft Surface Pro 1 Tablet!

This survey is open to past and current scholarship recipients, as well as all individuals who are eligible for a Foundation scholarship, which includes original Doyon, Limited shareholders and children of original shareholders. You can find Doyon Foundation’s scholarship eligibility criteria here.

Complete the survey by the early bird deadline on Friday, September 29 for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card! Early bird respondents will also be entered in the random drawing to win prizes after the survey deadline on Friday, October 13.

Everyone who completes the survey by the Friday, October 13 deadline will be entered in a random drawing for a chance to win:

  • A used Microsoft Surface Pro 1 Tablet generously donated by student Jordan Craddick
  • A People of the Water Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket from our Athabaskan Heritage Collection™ Spirit Keeper Series™
  • One $100 Visa gift card
  • One of four $50 Visa gift cards

Thank you for helping us better understand the needs of our students, and how we can better serve you!

Take the survey here.

 

As of the 2017 PFD application deadline, 61 donors pledged $3,850 to support Doyon Foundation scholarships. While we are very grateful for those donations, we are left far short of our $5,000 Pick. Click. Give. goal.

2017 grad yearbook collage

Your Pick. Click. Give. support allows us to help students like these – our Class of 2017 – reach their education, career and life goals. 

Luckily there is still time to get there! You can add or change a Pick. Click. Give. contribution through Thursday, August 31! Simply visit pfd.alaska.gov and click the “add or change a Pick. Click. Give. donation” link.

 

With your help, we are able to provide scholarships and offer cultural opportunities to Alaska Native students pursuing their educational, career and life goals. Last year, we awarded a total of 578 scholarships totaling $684,633.

 

These scholarships go to support the educational efforts of students like Aubrielle Champagne, who overcame incredible health challenges to achieve her dreams. And Melody Hoffman, a mother and nursing student who encourages other parents that “it is possible to raise our kids and get a degree.” And Noah Lovell, who takes time out from his studies to share about his culture, community and choosing a major.

 

Remember – you have until August 31 to help us reach our $5,000 Pick. Click. Give. goal! Thank you for your support!

 

Doyon Foundation is currently seeking candidates for three open seats on its board of directors. The deadline to apply is Monday, October 16 at 5 p.m. The open positions are for three-year terms expiring in 2020. 

Qualifications

Candidates seeking election to the Doyon Foundation board must be:

  • A Doyon shareholder
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Knowledgeable about private foundation management and higher education
  • Familiar with the Foundation’s vision, goals, mission and purpose
  • Committed to carrying out the duties of a board member, which include:
    • Attending quarterly board meetings
    • Serving on two board committees
    • Completing work outside of meetings
    • Representing the Foundation at various events
    • Speaking on behalf of the Foundation at events, if asked

Doyon Foundation is specifically interested in candidates with experience with nonprofit boards, fundraising, financial management, endowment fund investing, culture and language revitalization, and Alaska Native education.

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.

Responsibilities/Job Description

The duties of a Doyon Foundation board member include:

  • Contribute skills that help the Foundation make progress on planning.
  • Consistently work toward and produce 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.
  • Define and oversee the mission of the Foundation and keep it relevant to the needs of Doyon shareholders and their descendants.
  • Approve programs/services and monitor their effectiveness.
  • Provide strategic guidance to the Foundation and its executive director.
  • Ensure financial solvency and help raise resources.
  • Select, support and evaluate the executive director.
  • Ensure continuous board improvement.
  • Attend quarterly meetings in Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as any special meetings called.
  • Serve on two board committees and possibly chair one committee, which include finance/investment, development/fundraising, language revitalization/culture, and governance.
  • Participate in at least one board training event each year.
  • Demonstrate willingness to take on other duties and assignments, as needed.
  • Represent and, if asked, speak on behalf of Doyon Foundation at various events.

Application Instructions/Deadline

Applications are accepted using this online form. The form does not take long to fill out and candidates are able to upload resumes and/or other materials.

Candidates may also download and print the 2017 board candidate application to complete and mail to Doyon Foundation, 615 Bidwell Avenue, Suite 101, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99701. Mailing instructions are provided on the form.

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 its work by reviewing the Foundation’s website, blog and Facebook page prior to submitting an application.

The deadline to apply is Monday, October 16 at 5 p.m.

For more information, please visit doyonfoundation.com or contact Doris Miller, Doyon Foundation executive director, at 907.459.2048 or millerd@doyon.com.

Doyon Foundation is seeking applicants for our open administrative assistant position. If you are interested in being part of a small, dedicated team working to support students and revitalize Native language, this could be the job for you!

Our administrative assistant works closely with the Foundation executive director, handles administrative duties and provides board support that enables our office to operate efficiently. This position also works with the Foundation team to support our language revitalization program, scholarship programs, community relations and fund development.

This is a full-time position based at the Foundation office in Fairbanks.

If you or someone you know are interested in this position, please visit the Doyon, Limited employment webpage to learn more. To apply, create a Talent Bank profile on the Doyon website and then complete the online application. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, August 23.

Supported by Doyon Foundation, Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh (“Our Language Nest”) is an immersion program that teaches children to become fluent speakers of Gwich’in while helping preserve one of the world’s most threatened Indigenous languages.

Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh meets Saturdays at various sites in and around Fairbanks so that parents and children may speak Gwich’in, sing songs, share lessons and create learning activities. Virtually all activities are in Gwich’in, and the activity is free of charge.

“The group is open to everyone, but especially parents with young children,” says Allan Hayton, the Foundation’s language revitalization program director. “The goal is to teach Gwich’in to children by talking to them in the language.”

Gatherings typically attract a half-dozen or so parents and as many as 10 children. There is no fee to attend and parents also rely on the group to learn Gwich’in.

A “no-English” policy is typical of language nest immersion programs in Alaska and throughout the world. Adopting the metaphor of a nest as a safe place to learn, Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh is an early childhood education project that brings together Elders who are fluent speakers and parents and children, who typically speak English only.

Hayton began working with parents in 2015 to start Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh; today he’s among the group’s leaders, which includes parents and other community members. Partners include University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Rural Student Services and Denakkanaaga, the Fairbanks-based nonprofit organization for Native Elders. Over the years, the group has met outdoors, at parents’ homes, at Denakkanaaga and the UAF campus.

“No two Language Nest meetings are the same,” says Charlene Stern, a mother who has been involved since the group’s very first meeting. By the time her son was born, Charlene says she realized she wanted him to hear Gwich’in daily, at home. Charlene’s first language is English; her mother and siblings are fluent Gwich’in speakers.

Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh differs from teaching that introduces vocabulary in a new language by having students memorize isolated words or phrases. Some meetings involve getting together to share a meal and practice Gwich’in table phrases. Other gatherings focus on games and songs or venturing outdoors. This in-context approach teaches Gwich’in by offering everyday, appealing situations that “feed” the language into ears of young children. Two primary teachers who are fluent speakers are on hand at Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh gatherings. Parents who are second-language learners also are welcome to lead activities and lessons.

Worldwide language nest projects trace their start to 1982 and successful efforts to revive the Maori language in New Zealand. In Alaska, the nine ancestral languages of the Doyon region were the first languages spoken by the people as recently as 100 years ago. Revitalization programs like Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh can add to the number of fluent speakers and lessen the risk that the language will be lost.

“For me, one of the most important things about the Language Nest is that it creates a space where our children positively engage with our culture and language,” Charlene says. Alaska Native children typically are a minority in urban public schools, and she says Native children often experience discrimination that fosters feelings of inferiority. “Language Nest helps equip our children with stronger identities so that they become more resilient individuals and tribal members.”

Language nests such as Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh adhere to evidence-based strategies in early childhood education. For instance, research shows that up to about age 7, children acquire a second language – or third or fourth – as naturally as they learn a first language.

Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh is one of several Foundation-supported programs to revitalize Indigenous languages in the Doyon region. Efforts include the Native Word of the Month and Doyon Languages Online, the grant-funded project that is developing online lessons for five of the Doyon languages: Holikachuk, Denaakk’e, Benhti Kenaga’, Hän and Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa. Plans eventually call for online lessons in all Doyon region languages.

Charlene is among the Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh parents from families who encouraged English as a step to success in the Western world. “Today we know that speaking more than one language carries many benefits,” she says. “And we know that culture and language revitalization is critical to personal identity and collective well-being.”

She’s looking forward to a time when more families take part in Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh or similar community-driven efforts.

“We participate because it’s something that’s important to us, our children, and generations yet to come,” she says. “We can’t look to organizations, school districts or government grants to singlehandedly revitalize the Gwich’in language. I believe it’s up to us.”

For more information on Diiginjik K’yaa Ch’at’oh and how to get involved in the Language Nest, please contact Allan Hayton at 907.459.2162 or haytona@doyon.com.

“Xisrigidisddhinh … so grateful. I absolutely loved spending time with Elders and learners speaking Deg Xinag. It was invaluable to me.” –LaVerne Demientieff, PhD, Doyon Foundation Board Member

Language speakers, teachers, learners and those interested in revitalizing Deg Xinag and Holikachuk languages gathered in Holy Cross June 4 – 7. The gathering, sponsored by Doyon Foundation with support from the Administration for Native Americans, began with dinner at the Holy Cross School on Sunday evening, and continued Monday through Wednesday, overlapping with the 2017 Denakkanaaga Elders and Youth Conference.

Elders gather in the Holy Cross school library to share language and stories

Elders gather in the Holy Cross school library to share language and stories.

Deg Xinag is the traditional language of Deg Hit’an Athabaskans in four villages on the Lower Yukon River: Shageluk, Anvik, Holy Cross and Grayling. Holikachuk is the traditional language of the former village of the same name on the Innoko River. In 1962, residents of Holikachuk relocated to Grayling on the Lower Yukon River.

Deg Xinag and Holikachuk languages are among the most endangered in the Doyon region. The remaining speakers of each can all be known by first name only, and most were present at the gathering in Holy Cross.

The gathering brought together Elders, speakers, teachers, learners and other stakeholders to create momentum for current and future language revitalization initiatives in the Doyon region. Elders and speakers in attendance included Edna Deacon, Mary Deacon, Jim Dementi, Daisy Demientieff and Elizabeth Keating, along with University of Alaska Southeast linguist Alice Taff, and teachers and learners Donna MacAlpine, Jeanette Dementi, LaVerne Demientieff, Sonta Hamilton Roach and Kyle Worl. Doyon Languages Online content creators Susan Paskvan and Bev Kokrine, and Doyon Foundation board member and language revitalization committee chair Paul Mountain were also in attendance.

Participants playing the table top language learning game led by Susan Paskvan

Participants playing the table top language learning game led by Susan Paskvan.

Elder Elizabeth Keating, who grew up in the village of Holikachuk before it was relocated to present day Grayling, and who spoke Holikachuk fluently until her teenage years, shared eloquent words about her time at the gathering. “It was a powerful and sometimes emotional experience for me,” she said. “First time in a long time that I’ve been involved where everyone was speaking my language. It dredged up memories and emotions in a wholesome way. I am more dedicated than ever to revitalizing the language.” The process of delving into ancestral language can be a profound and life-changing endeavor for those with a passion to learn, as evidenced by Elizabeth’s and others’ comments during the gathering.

The goal of the gathering was to create a call to action, develop practical steps toward long-range goals, and share inspiration and hope around language revitalization. The event created a space for learners to ask Elders questions about the language, and for Elders to share their knowledge and experience with learners. For many, language provides a source of connection with departed loved ones, with the culture, with one another, and with the land. Edna Deacon shared that when she has difficulty recalling a word or phrase, she will silently ask her late father, and in time it will come to her as though he were “whispering in her ear.”

The focus on Indigenous language over several days was particularly meaningful in this community, former home to the Holy Cross Mission Orphanage where oppression of Alaska Native language and culture was a common practice and whose repercussions are still felt very strongly generations later. Read more in the article “The Last Orphans of Holy Cross” by Mary Annette Pember.

Holy Cross village from the cross on the hill

Holy Cross village from the cross on the hill.

LaVerne Demientieff, Ph.D., a professor in social work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Doyon Foundation board member, has drawn connections between language learning and healing from trauma. “When people experience trauma it can be hard to regulate our nervous system, feel safe, trust, connect with others, build relationships, etc. It is always a work in progress to ‘feel normal,’ or what we perceive ‘normal’ to be. This directly relates to language in my understanding and experience and it is why there should be love, safety and strengths that are included in language revitalization efforts.”  

A wonderful outcome of the gathering in Holy Cross was the formation of a language-learning group that will continue to meet regularly. Demientieff, who is also a Foundation language committee member, shared her commitment to moving forward. “My personal goals are to listen daily to language via audio and maybe take a linguistics class or two. I am open to writing about language, working on language activities, like documentation, preservation of older materials, working with community and being a part of Deg Xinag language classes,” she stated. The group will meet via teleconference, and is open to anyone interested in learning Deg Xinag.

For more information on the gathering, the language revitalization program, or the newly formed language-learning group, please contact Allan Hayton, Doyon Foundation language revitalization program director, at 907.459.2162 or haytona@doyon.com.

See more photos from the gathering on the Foundation’s Facebook page.

Missed the language gathering? Check out these video clip highlights from the event:

 

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