2015 Shareholder Awards
Every year NANA honors four members of the NANA family with awards that recognize their contributions to our people, our communities and our Corporation.
2015 Elder of the Year
The Elder of the Year is a respected Elder who models and practices the Iñupiat Ilitqusiat, stays active in teaching our language and culture and demonstrates leadership among our people. The Elder of the Year Award is given by the Regional Elders Council (REC) and we would like to invite Larry Westlake of REC to present the award.
The 2015 Elder of the Year Award was awarded to Edna Kakiñiq Commack.
Edna was born and raised in Shungnak and has been active in the Shungnak Friends Church since 1952, including teaching Sunday school and serving as a ministry and council member for many years.
She is a very experienced with making traditional items such as parkas, mukluks, beaver hats, atikluks, mittens and most of all, birch bark baskets and picture frames. She loves to teach our younger generation and anyone who is will to learn.
She has a strong impact in the community of Shungnak and is always encouraging everyone to be their best in everything that they do. Her door is always open and she welcomes everyone that walks into her home. She loves teaching everyone to live a subsistence lifestyle and exemplifies Iñupiaq culture.
2015 Shareholder of the Year
The NANA Shareholder of the Year Award is given to a shareholder who shows leadership within the community and the NANA region, contributes to the community and helps preserve Iñupiaq culture and heritage. The 2015 Shareholder of the Year is Nellie Carol Wesley of Noatak.
Carol has been active in the Noatak Search and Rescue organization for more than 30 years. She has worked with the village IRA and has been helping NANA shareholders every way possible in all needs of her community. She shares her knowledge and skills on various committees with the Borough Planning Commission and Arctic Circle Search and Rescue and has dedicated much of her life to the well-being of her community and fellow NANA shareholders. She truly has a passion for helping everyone she meets.
2015 Youth of the Year
The Youth of the Year Award is given to a young person who demonstrates leadership, models our values, excels academically, and contributes to the benefit of all NANA youth. The 2015 Youth of the Year Award was awarded to Clarence Gripentrog from Ambler, Alaska.
Clarence is the son of David and Ila Gripentrog of Ambler. He is an excellent “A” student at Ambler High School and is a very active subsistence hunter and trapper.He has learned this way of life from his father, grandfather and uncles and shows true pride and respect with every catch.
He started his life as a hunter around the age of 10 when he snared a rabbit. Today he’s trapping lynx, martin, fox, rabbit and mink and also loves hunting caribou and moose during the season. He also enjoys camping and fishing.
Clarence shows tremendous passion and motivation for hunting and trapping since he was a young boy and today as a young man, he deserves to be recognized for being one of the best role models in the NANA region for his age.
He knows the importance of being a successful hunter/trapper and in being a successful student to be prepared for his life ahead.
2015 Richard A. Baenen Award
The Richard A. Baenen Award showcases a non-shareholder who shows an untiring commitment to our people and works hard to make a difference in our region and for NANA shareholders. This year’s 2015 Richard A. Baenen Award was awarded to Douglas B. and Wanni W. Anderson.
Doug and Wanni Anderson spent 50 years studying the peoples of the Kobuk River and Arctic Alaska while working as professors at Brown University.
Their work often benefitted from the contributions of the people from Ambler, Kiana and Selawik who helped at archaeological sites like Onion Portage and who were interviewed as Doug and Wanni worked to capture traditional practices, place names and the history of life in the region.
The Andersons’ effort has resulted in numerous books and publications that have helped the world understand who we are as Iñupiat and have furthered knowledge of Iñupiaq culture. For shareholders, their work helps us understand what life was like for our people and how it is connected to today’s world.
Their work continues to have impact today. They have conducted a study 20 miles upriver from Kiana at a place called Igligtiqsiugvigruakk, which Doug describes as a very large and important village.