2018 Shareholder of the Year Awards Announced
Doyon, Limited is proud to announce the 2018 Shareholder of the Year Award recipients, who were honored at the 2018 annual meeting of shareholders. Doyon congratulates each of the following shareholders for their exemplary achievements and community involvement.
Doyon Citizen of the Year, Rhonda Pitka
Rhonda Pitka, Koyukon Athabascan and Inupiaq of Beaver, is the 2018 Doyon Citizen of the Year. Pitka’s paternal grandparents are Tony Sam, Sr. and the late Emily Sam of Huslia, the late George Frank of Galena and the late Minnie Yatlin of Huslia. Her maternal grandparents are Elsie Pitka and the late Elman Pitka of Beaver. Her siblings are George, Charlie and Elizabeth Yatlin.
Pitka is the First Chief of the Beaver Village Council, where she has served since 2011. She is the former chairwoman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. She credits her grandmother, Elsie Pitka, for her dedication to learning and service to her community. Her grandmother was the teacher aide at the Beaver School for 25 years, and instilled a lifelong love of reading and learning in her life.
Pitka serves her community as a full-time tribal advocate for Alaska Native people and the people of Beaver. She was selected as a panelist to sit with President Barack Obama during his September 2015 visit to Alaska, where she spoke from the heart regarding fish management and the importance of subsistence.
In 2016, Pitka was honored as a Native American “Top 40 Under 40” from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. The award is bestowed upon leaders who have demonstrated initiative and dedication, and who have made significant contributions to business and their community.
In 2017, Pitka was selected as a public member of the Federal Subsistence Board. Former Secretary Sally Jewel cited her record of public involvement in subsistence and natural resource management, her service on the Eastern Interior Regional Advisory Committee and her participation on the Yukon River Panel. Pitka currently serves on the Native American Rights Fund board.
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes a person who has demonstrated leadership, strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in the educational and cultural survival of Alaska Natives. Recipients may be chosen for contributions in the fields of health or education, maintenance of a traditional lifestyle, or for the example they set as parents.
Daaga’ Community Service Award, Marjorie Attla
Marjorie (Koyukuk) Attla of Galena was presented the 2018 Daaga’ Community Service Award. Attla, originally from Allakaket, is the daughter of the late Walter Koyukuk and Mary David. Attla and her former husband, Robert Attla, raised their family in Huslia and then Galena. Together they raised three children: Wanda, Anna and the late Gilbert Attla.
Prior to attending elementary school, Attla lived nomadically with her parents, moving to various camps. During the school year, Attla lived in Allakaket. At 17 years old, she left Allakaket to pursue work in Huslia. From there, she moved to various towns in the lower 48 before settling in Galena.
Attla worked for Tanana Chiefs Conference for 14 years as the health and safety educator for the Yukon Koyukuk subregion. In 2002, she started working for the Galena Mental Health Clinic as a counselor. In addition to her career, Attla is very involved in her home community, where she was key in establishing the Galena Search and Rescue Board and served on the KIYU public radio board. She also helps organize the Yukon Jamboree, a regional fiddle festival held each fall.
For well over a decade, Attla hosted a radio show on KIYU to share stories and experiences relating to wildlife, fish and subsistence in the Koyukuk and middle Yukon areas of Interior Alaska. Attla speaks the Koyukon Athabascan language, Denaakk’e, and has worked on many Denaakk’e language preservation projects. She has taught throughout Alaska on the importance of subsistence living: how it relates to the Athabascan language, improves the health and safety of Alaska Natives, and keeps culture alive. She has taught classes at every level, from elementary to university and lectures at conferences and summits.
Attla lives an active subsistence lifestyle. In the past, she and her family hosted groups of youth at their fish camp along the Yukon River to share and teach their subsistence lifestyle.
The Daaga’ Community Service Award recognizes a community or individual who shows strong commitment, competence and sensitivity in helping others to make their community a healthier and safer place to live, and whose accomplishments have directly affected Alaska Natives.
Hannah Paul Solomon Elder of the Year, the late Hudson Sam, Sr.
Hannah Paul Solomon Elder of the Year, the late Hudson Tony Sam, Sr., was born in Cutoff to Little Sammy Tony and Big Sophie (Ophelia) Sam. When Sam was 3 years old, his father gave him the Koyukon (Denaakk’e) name, Atzock, which means “quiet baby.” Sam married Selina (Simon) on Christmas Day 1969. Their children are Annette, Ross, the late Hudson Jr., Elizabeth, Dominic, Samantha, Barbie, and adopted Natalie and David. They also have 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Sam and his wife, Selina, raised many other children over the years from across the state of Alaska. They were active foster parents who met the underserved population of Alaska Native children in foster care. About 30 years ago, they became licensed foster parents and ran a boarding home for high school students in Huslia for an inter-village exchange program. They were also part of a lawsuit involving the affirmation of tribal jurisdiction over tribal members.
Sam worked as an emergency firefighter for over 30 years, starting at the age of 15. He also worked at Hog River as a mechanic and ran the Huslia City Council sawmill with his friends for a few summers. Sam retired as the Jimmy Huntington School maintenance person after working there for 10 years. Throughout his life, he led the Huslia Search and Rescue program and served on the Koyukuk River Advisory Committee, representing Huslia in local hunting, trapping, guiding and fishing issues and concerns. He also served as the mayor of Huslia and on the Huslia Village Council.
Sam was raised to live a subsistence lifestyle and developed a love of music throughout his lifetime. He played the guitar and violin along with his father, and performed for many community events and dances over the decades. For the past 33 years, Sam enjoyed playing at the Fiddler’s Festival in Fairbanks.
Although Sam was diagnosed with cancer 17 years ago, it didn’t stop him from actively taking part in subsistence activities and continuing to teach younger people. When he wasn’t in Fairbanks for chemotherapy, Sam was out on the river with family and friends. In fall 2017, he walked through the woods and up and down river banks during moose hunt season with his oxygen tank. He used it as an opportunity to teach young people to keep fighting and not give up.
Sam loved staying in his family’s fish camp 25 miles below Huslia and was a devoted community member. Sam passed away in February 2018.
Hannah Paul Solomon Elder of the Year, Lina Demoski
Lina Lenora (Stickman) Demoski of Anvik was also presented the 2018 Hannah Paul Solomon Elder of the Year. Demoski was born in spring 1927 to the late George and Xenia (Dementi) Stickman along a family trapline on Lonesome River, a tributary of the Innoko River. Her parents died while she was young, but she was very close to her sister, Catherine. In October 1942, Demoski married Edward Demoski of Dishkaket. Her children are Ernest, the late Rudy, Gladys, the late Edward Jr., Freda, Adele, Paul Glenn, Ella, the late William, Hughie and Nina. Demoski and her husband had five sets of twins, which was common on his side of the family. Lina has 33 grandchildren, 67 great grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
At age 6, Demoski was sent to Holy Cross mission school but cried so much for her father that he went back to bring her home. She lived with her family in Holikachuk until her father passed when she was 9 years old. Demoski then returned to mission school until she was 12 years old and moved back to Holikachuk with her stepparents. It was then that Demoski starting watching women splitting roots and making tablemats, trays and willow root baskets so she could learn how to create them herself with her sister, Catherine. Demoski started making tablemats and sold her first one for $3 when she was 13 years old. She made her first cover basket when she was 18 and then she began making trays.
Demoski supported her family through her talents as a well-renowned basket maker. She gathered roots in the summer and winter to create her baskets, which was very hard work. She dedicated her life to teaching the younger generations and passing on her skills and wisdom. Demoski taught willow root basket and tray making at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, various Interior rural elementary schools as well as the Anchorage Museum. She also attended every cultural camp in Anvik, teaching children and adults how to gather roots and make root baskets. She tells stories of growing up and shares her knowledge to encourage youth to finish school and to remember their traditional knowledge.
The Hannah Paul Solomon Elder of the Year award recognizes an Elder, age 55 or older, who has devoted his or her life toward the betterment of Alaska Natives. The award is named in honor of the late Hannah Solomon who dedicated her life to teaching the younger generation traditional ways.