The Alaska Federation of Natives presented Southeast Alaska teacher Toni Mallott with the organization’s Citizen of the Year award Friday. AFN’s Citizen of the Year, Elder of the Year and Denali awards are the highest honors the organization bestows. Two people from Southeast Alaska were also given AFN awards.
AFN President Julie Kitka said Mallott embodies traditional Native values and is a valued leader and educator in the community.
“Born and raised on the Yukon River, Toni began her lifetime of learning reading by candlelight after finishing her day’s chores,” Kitka said. “From humble beginnings in Rampart, she went on to earn her Masters in Education from the University of Fairbanks. Toni is strong, smart, determined; she is generous, caring and humble.”
Mallott was recognized for more than 30 years of educating in Juneau, Yakutat and Anchorage schools. Mallott said she was accepting the award on behalf of all teachers.
Renowned Alaska Native language linguist Larry Kaplan was honored with the AFN Denali Award. Kaplan is the director of the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The Denali award is reserved for a non-Native person who demonstrates a strong commitment to the Alaska Native community and rural Alaska.
“Here I am a linguist and I’m just about speechless,” Kaplan said when accepting the award.
Kaplan encouraged elders in the audience to share their Native languages with young people.
Robert Marshall of Chitina was given the Elder of the Year award. Marshall, 91, has never missed an AFN convention until this year, he said. He was in Anchorage caring for his sick wife during the convention, but a video of him thanking the delegates for the award was played on the large projection screens at the Carlson Center.
Marshal has served as a board member for AFN, the Copper River Native Association, Ahtna, Inc., Native Village of Tazlina and RurAL CAP. He worked for the state Department of Transportation for 40 years before retiring.
Nancy Cecile Barnes of Juneau was named Parent of the Year by AFN. Barnes is known as “Auntie Nancy” to many children and became a full-time single parent to her niece seven years ago. Barnes started the Shimalgyak Language Circle in Juneau, which helps those learning the Tlingit language, and is the group leader for the Yees Ku Oo dancers.
Kyle Demientieff-Worl was given the Roger Lang Youth Leadership award. Demientieff-Worl is the son of Rod Worl or Klukwan and Beverly Demientieff of Holy Cross. He participates annually in the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and is passionate about language revitalization. Demientieff-Worl is a junior at the University of Alaska-Anchorage pursuing a degree in anthropology with a minor in Alaska Native studies.
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