Governor names members of Native Language Council

Governor Sean Parnell has appointed Stephen Walkie Charles, Delores Churchill, April Gale Laktonen Counceller, Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, and Annette Evans-Smith to the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council.


The council advises the governor and Legislature on programs, policies, and projects to provide for the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of Alaska Native languages in the state. All of the appointments to the council represent professional language experts.

Charles, of Fairbanks, is an assistant professor of Yup’ik Eskimo at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He grew up in Emmonak speaking Yup’ik before earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UAF, a master’s degree in education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics at UAF.

Churchill, of Ketchikan, is a renowned weaver who teaches basketry at the University of Alaska Southeast. a second career she took on after retiring from work at Ketchikan General Hospital. She is one of the few remaining speakers of the Haida language and is active as a board member, teacher, and cultural leader with Ketchikan Indian Community. Churchill holds an honorary doctorate of humanities from UAS.

Counceller, of Kodiak, is an assistant professor of Alutiiq language and culture at Kodiak College and the language manager at Alutiiq Museum. She is active in language preservation efforts, serving as a member of the Cultural Survival Inc. Native American Language Advisory Panel, the Qik’rtarmiut Alutiiq Regional Language Advisory Committee, the Alaska Anthropological Association Board of Directors, the Alutiiq New Words Council, and the Koniag Inc. Board of Directors. Counceller holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and American civilization from Brown University, a master’s degree in rural development from UAF, and a Ph.D. in language planning and indigenous knowledge systems from UAF.

Alvanna-Stimpfle, of Nome, is the Eskimo Heritage Program Director at Kawerak Inc., and an Inupiaq instructor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus. She has worked as an Alaska Native education coordinator and classroom teacher, and as a teaching mentor with the Alaska Statewide Mentoring Project. She also is a member of the King Island Drummers & Dance Group and a former member of the King Island Traditional Council. Alvanna-Stimpfle holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in Inupiaq Eskimo language from UAF.

Evans-Smith, of Anchorage, is the president and CEO of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where she has worked in several roles since 2003. Under her leadership, the center has initiated a study to identify Alaska Native language programs and learners of Alaska Native languages with the hope of connecting Alaska Native residents in Anchorage to the language programs that exist across Alaska. Her prior work involves service with Southcentral Foundation and The Northern Forum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and is a trustee with the Western States Arts Federation. Evans-Smith is learning the Yup’ik language through her grandmother.


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