Three new members and one incumbent were elected to the Doyon Foundation board of directors at the Foundation’s annual membership meeting on November 10. Joining the board are Joshua Peter, elected for a three-year term; Allan Hayton, elected for a two-year remainder term; and Lanien M. Livingston, elected for a one-year remainder term. Incumbent board member Julie Anderson was re-elected for a three-year term.

Joshua Peter

Joshua Peter

Allan Hayton

Allan Hayton

Lanien Livingston

Lanien Livingston

Joshua Peter, originally of Nulato and currently residing in Fairbanks, is the son of the late Hattie Peter, and the grandson of the late Simel and Vivian Peter. He and his wife, Margaret Matthew, have two sons, Daniel and Mathias. Peter, a Doyon Foundation alumnus, holds an associate’s of applied science degree in computer and information technology systems from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). His 14-year career in IT services included employment at UAF and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Peter is now working as an assistant professor with the UAF Community and Technical College. He also serves on the Gana-A’Yoo investment and shareholder committees.

“I’ve been fortunate to have guidance and motivation from amazing mentors and leaders. What I hope to accomplish as a member of the board is to share my experience with Doyon shareholder students,” Peter said.

Allan Hayton (Diton) is Gwich’in Athabascan and grew up in Arctic Village (Vashrąįį K’ǫǫ), Alaska. His parents are Lena Pauline Hayton from Fort Yukon, and James T. Hayton. His grandparents are Robert and Lena Albert from Tanana and Fort Yukon. Hayton, a Doyon Foundation alumnus, studied theatre at Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas, finishing his bachelor’s of arts degree in 1992. Hayton is currently finishing a master’s of arts degree in applied linguistics at UAF, and has been teaching Gwich’in language to new generations of speakers. He previously served on the Doyon Foundation language revitalization committee, and is active at St. Matthew’s Church.

Hayton said he believes in the goals of the Doyon Foundation and has benefited from their support in pursuit of his educational goals. He hopes to return that support by working to create educational opportunities for others.

Lanien M. Livingston is originally from Anchorage and makes her home in Fairbanks. She is the daughter of Phyllis Sing Garrett from Sitka and the granddaughter of the late Sam Sing from Sitka and the late Sarah Frances Lindgren from Kenai. She is Tlingit/Kenaitze. Livingston, a Doyon Foundation alumna, holds an associate’s of applied science degree in applied business and a business management certificate from UAF. She is also a 2004 graduate of the Doyon Management Training program. Livingston currently works as a recruiter for Tanana Chiefs Conference in the human resources department.

“I am honored to serve on the Doyon Foundation board. I hope to help the Doyon Foundation support the educational needs of our students. Furthering one’s education is very important and will provide many rewards for years to come,” Livingston said.

Julie Anderson, an incumbent board member who served as board secretary and treasurer last year, was re-elected to the board. Read more about Anderson on the Foundation’s website.

Peter, Hayton, Livingston and Anderson join Paul Mountain, Victor Nicholas and Teisha Simmons on the Foundation’s seven-member board of directors.

Due to the rapidly decreasing number of fluent speakers, Native languages within the Doyon region are not being passed on quickly enough to ensure their survival, creating an urgent need to promote and foster language opportunities for non-speakers.

“In 5 to 10 years, language extinction is possible,” said Wesley Roberts Dalton, former vice president of the Doyon Foundation board of directors and former chair of the Foundation’s language revitalization committee.

To address this critical issue, Doyon Foundation is launching the Language Revitalization Program, a comprehensive, region-wide program to capture, preserve, share and perpetuate Athabascan languages.

Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization committee has been working on this goal for almost four years.  A 10-year strategic plan and program proposal were developed, and the committee is now working on a business plan. The committee also researched many different language-learning software and technology options before selecting the Byki language-learning program, offered by Transparent Language, which has helped millions of individuals learn new languages and is used by more than 12,000 schools and universities, including top government language schools.

The committee and Foundation staff also developed one- to five-year goals. Some first-year goals include hiring a language revitalization program director, building relationships and collaborating with like-minded partners, securing additional funding, and creating a pilot language learning program, among other tasks.

“The Doyon Foundation program could grow into a multi-million dollar, grant-funded department. That’s been demonstrated by other Native corporations in the state,” Dalton said. “We can become leaders in language revitalization.”

Earlier this year, the Doyon, Limited board of directors approved a resolution and a $150,000 contribution to the Foundation to establish and operate the first year of the program.

“The resolution reaffirms the board’s mission to strengthen our Native way of life and support the Doyon Foundation, which provides educational, career and cultural opportunities to enhance the identity and quality of life for Doyon shareholders,” said Aaron Schutt, Doyon, Limited president and CEO.

“Providing cultural opportunities and a strong demonstration of Native traditional language and culture is at the core of Doyon Foundation’s mission and vision,” said Doris Miller, Foundation executive director. “Doyon’s support of this program will enable us to make significant strides toward the revitalization of our Native languages, which is critical for their survival. We are grateful beyond words for Doyon, Limited’s support.”

The need for the program is clear: According to the Alaska Native Language Center, there are less than 500 speakers of the nine Athabascan languages in the Doyon region. Gwich’in and Koyukon have the most, with 150 speakers. Most of the others have fewer than 30 speakers.

In addition to the declining number of speakers, there are insufficient numbers of qualified Athabascan language teachers, and there is not a solid, region-wide language revitalization effort to provide easily accessible language programs.

But this need is not just about language; it is also about bringing positive change to the people of the Doyon region. Research has shown that the ability to speak one’s language is essential to strong self-identity, self-esteem and the perpetuation of cultural beliefs, values and traditions.

A quote from Victor Nicholas, Doyon, Limited board vice president and Doyon Foundation board member, sums it up. “It’s our language – it’s who we are,” he said.

The development of this program has been a labor of love for the Foundation’s language committee members, including Chair Paul Mountain, Lorraine David, Wesley Roberts Dalton, Teisha Simmons, Patricia Paul, Alan Hayton, Polly E. Hyslop and Susan Paskvan, as well as many others who have volunteered their time.

“These individuals have demonstrated their deep commitment to our people and culture by volunteering countless hours researching the need, similar programs and possible solutions, as well as building relationships and developing a plan for the program. We are deeply grateful for their efforts and look forward to seeing our vision come to life,” Miller said.