Citizen of the Year award goes to Sen. Lyman Hoffman

Honors recognize commitment to Native values, healing, public service, culture, uplifting spirits, leadership and parenthood

Members of the Cordova Ikumat Dance Group perform during Quyana Alaska, a special event during the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage. (Oct. 18, 2018) Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times

Citizen of the Year

Alaska Federation of Natives officials have honored Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, as the 2019 Citizen of the Year, a pillar of statesmanship, history and service to the people of Alaska.

Hoffman is the longest-serving member in the history of the Alaska Legislature, with a total of 32 years in the House and Senate. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska.

Throughout his tenure in public service, Hoffman “has emerged as a key and crucial advocate for protecting the interests of rural Alaska and Alaska Native peoples,” AFN said in honoring him at their annual convention in Fairbanks Oct. 17-19.

Hoffman and his wife, Lillian have two children and two grandchildren. They reside in Bethel.

Denali Award

The Denali Award, recognizing contributions of a non-Native person who demonstrated strong commitment, dedication and service to Alaska Natives and rural Alaska, went to Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Heritage Land Trust. Troll moved to Bethel in 1978 to work for Alaska Legal Services and has been a passionate advocate for Alaska Natives, rural lifestyles and natural resource conservation ever since, AFN said.

He was cited for exemplary leadership, dedication and service to enriching Bristol Bay through the Bristol Bay River Academy, which offers Native youth summer jobs and a possible career path close to their home villages.


Della Keats Healing Hands

Dorcus Rock, of Point Hope, who has also served as an Inupiat language teacher, was awarded the Della Keats Healing Hands award for her work as a traditional healer. The award recognizes an Alaska Native who has demonstrated a strong commitment, competence and sensitivity as a tribal healer or health care provider whose accomplishments have most directly affected Native people in their home communities.

Public Service Award

Gary Harrison of Chickaloon was honored with the Public Service Award for his leadership in promoting quality health services for all Alaska Natives, advocating for community and economic development projects and ensuring that the tribal government is recognized as a sovereign nation.

Culture Bearer

The Culture Bearer award went to Benjamin Young of Hydaburg, for his role in language revitalization as a language mentor, researcher and curriculum developer. The Culture Bearer Award recognizes an Alaska Native who demonstrates strong involvement in the arts and preservers of Native culture.

Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warriors of light”

Amber Webb, of Anchorage, who creates apparel celebrating the Yup’ik language and subsistence activities, was awarded the Dr. Walter Soboleff “Warriors of light” award. She was also cited for being strong advocate for social justice and water protection.

Lu Young Youth Leadership

The Lu Young Youth Leadership award went to Caitlynn Hanna of Anchorage, who is studying civil engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The award recognizes young women in high school or college who demonstrate leadership qualities.

Elder of the Year

The Elder of the Year award, recognizing an Alaska Native elder who exemplifies the highest of values and qualities important to Native people, was awarded to Nina Nasruq Harvey, who grew up in Kobuk, and whose family at times had only fish and berries to eat. Today Harvey still lives a subsistence lifestyle.

Parents of the Year

Ulric and Mary Ulroan, teachers in Chevak, the parents of six and grandparents of three, were honored as parents of the year. Together they have taught their children the traditional subsistence way of life, AFN officials said. The family travels from Chevak to Mountain Village each summer to help Mary’s mother catch, cut and smoke salmon.