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2018 Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement in the Arts

Robert Pond (posthumous), Anchorage

Robert Pond’s immeasurable contributions helped build Anchorage’s now thriving theatre community. When he arrived in Alaska in 1957 to report for his Air Force station duty, he had already performed with the Metropolitan Opera, in Summer Stock and off Broadway. His unflagging dedication to theatre performance lead him to act at the Anchorage Little Theater where he met and befriended Frank Brink, Managing Artistic Director of Anchorage Community Theater (ACT).

By the late 1960's Pond was acting in ACT performances, assisting Brink with ACT management, and serving as a theatre class instructor. Twenty years after his first arrival in Alaska he briefly left the state to earn a graduate degree in theater.  Following his graduation he returned to serve as ACT’s Artistic
Director and Anchorage’s theatre community for the next 42 years.

Throughout his career he encouraged countless directors, technicians, stage managers, costume designers, and everyone with interest in theatre – regardless of their age – to experiment with and master their art form. He challenged actors to strive toward their best work. Bob initiated a "Sunday Showcase Series" for local directors, choreographers and performing artists to demonstrate their talents. He established a "Young Performers Workshop" to teach acting and technical work.


Bob, who passed away last year, was awarded the Lorene Harrison Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award in 2003 in recognition for his exceptional work and leadership.

Individual Artist

Alvin Amason, Anchorage / Kodiak

Alvin Eli Amason (born 1948) is a Sugpiaq painter and sculptor. He was raised on Kodiak Island where his family has a rich history of trapping, fox farming, commercial fishing, and bear guiding. After high school he attended Central Washington University where he received a Master’s degree in painting. He then attended Arizona State University where he received a Master’s in Fine Arts. Alvin worked for several years for the Navajo Nation as Art Department Chair and instructor at Dine'College in Tsaile, Arizona. He has established studios in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Arizona, California, Washington, and Alaska.


In 1992 Alvin was offered a position as Director of Native Arts at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he served for 17 years. After retiring, he was sought out to join the Department of Arts at the University of Alaska, Anchorage to develop an Alaska Native Arts curriculum and studio. Alvin has served on the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Institute of Alaska Native Arts, and the Alaska Native Arts Foundation.

Arts Business Leadership

Delbert Cederberg, Anchorage

Delbert Cederberg has spent more than half a century making Alaska a better place through his business, Allied Steel. Since settling in Anchorage in 1963, he has served with the Anchorage Volunteer Fire Department; contributed his steel fabricator skills to build habitats for Alaska Zoo animals; transformed the Mountain View Lions Community Park into a safe and fun environment for families and children; and helped to maintain Arctic Valley infrastructure in support of the Anchorage Ski Club.

Delbert has generously shared his steel fabricator skills, passion, and resources to help dozens of Alaskan artists of all skill levels and backgrounds to create and install sculptures across the greater Anchorage area. He has provided his expertise and service without expectation of remuneration; he frequently donated materials as well.

Delbert Cederberg is to be celebrated as a builder of an Alaska public art legacy that will endure long into the future.

Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Alaska Native Arts and Languages

Charlie Skultka, Jr., Sitka

Charlie Skultka, Jr. exemplifies the best and most revered qualities of an artist and culture bearer. Charlie was recognized as an accomplished ivory, wood, and metal carver from a young age. He honed his craft into his adulthood and shared his expertise as a demonstrating artist at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center (SEAICC) at the Sitka National Historic Park.

Charlie is a dedicated teaching artist who strives to enrich students’ lives through his cultural and artistic practices. He now shares his talents as the Traditional Arts Specialist for the Sitka Native Education Program, which is a partnership between the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the Sitka School District. He works with teachers to integrate Alaska Native arts projects into daily classroom learning activities. Charlie taught first graders how to make and play their own drums to build and reinforce their counting and language skills. Middle school students have worked alongside Charlie to learn how to design and build bentwood boxes and make deer calls, and the principals and discipline of form line design and creation have been incorporated into high school curriculum. Charlie has built teachers’ confidence to competently integrate Alaska Native knowledge into the Arts, Culture and Technology(ACT) standards into classroom learning experiences every day.

The Alaska Arts Education Consortium recognized and celebrated Charlie as their 2016 Champion of the Arts.

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Distinguished Service to the Humanities in Leadership

Susan Anderson, Anchorage

Susan Anderson has been a remarkable steward and leader of The CIRI Foundation (TCF) for 18 years, deeply dedicated to helping thousands of people change their lives through education and cultural knowledge. Susan, who is of Tlingit heritage and an original CIRI enrollee, was one of the first recipients of TCF’s scholarships, which she used to earn a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a Master’s degree in adult education administration. She also holds a post-graduate certificate in project management.

Susan sees her work as more of a calling than a job. Inspired by the support she received from TCF to achieve her educational dreams, Susan has given back to the organization to pay it forward so that others can achieve theirs. Susan was selected to attend the Stanford University Executive Program for
Philanthropy Leaders and has a long list of volunteer and board service. She has chaired the Alaska Humanities Forum, the United Way of Anchorage, and the Best Beginnings Early Learning Council, and served on the Native Americans in Philanthropy Board. She is currently a Trustee for the University
of Alaska Foundation and Alaska Pacific University, and she serves on the board of Philanthropy Northwest. Susan was instrumental in convening the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force: Alaska’s Early Childhood Investment, which became Best Beginnings. In 2010, the governor appointed Susan to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

"This position pulls together everything that I love to do," Susan said of her work with TCF. "It brings resources together for people, especially Alaska Native people, my people. It connects the dots."

Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities

Gary Holthaus, Anchorage

For over 60 years, Gary Holthaus has strengthened communities through his work forging connections between people across, race, class, and cultural divides. For the past five years, Gary served as the minister at Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. He is also a poet, non-fiction author, educator,
non-profit administrator, and an advocate for environmental and social justice issues. As Alaska’s first Director of Bilingual Education, he helped put together the state’s bilingual education law, making Alaska the second state in the union to have such a requirement. Gary was also the founding director of Alaska Humanities Forum, and for nearly 20 years developed many of the programs that are still part of the Forum’s activities.

Outside Alaska, Gary taught at the University of Colorado and was the Director of The Center of the American West. As Director of The Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Minnesota, he authored From the Farm to the Table: What All Americans Need to Know about Agriculture. More recently, Gary authored the book, Learning Native Wisdom: What Traditional Cultures Teach Us about Subsistence, Sustainabilty, and Spirtuality. Two of Gary’s essays that appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review were cited in Robert Atwan’s “Notable American Essays” series.

Gary also received an Individual Artist’s Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His book length poem, Circling Back, is a poetic history of the American West. Of it, poet Gary Snyder said, “If I had to recommend one book on the West, this would be it.”

Distinguished Service to the Humanities in Education

Alaska Highway Project, Anchorage

The Alaska Highway Project Team has worked over the past six years to research and share stories of the nearly 5,000 black soldiers who helped build the ALCAN highway. In 1942, in less than nine months,
these “colored regiments” proved their competence as construction engineers building the “First Road to Civil Rights”. Their outstanding efforts on the Alaska Highway helped lead to the desegregation of the
United States Military in 1948.

The Alaska Highway Project has worked to recognize these accomplishments by supporting the passing of Senate Bill 46, an act establishing October 25th as African-American Soldiers Contribution to Building the Alaska Highway Day. For the Alaska Studies Curriculum, an Alaska Highway History was crafted to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn about the soldiers’ work on the highway. The Team also brought 97 year old soldier Leonard Larkins back to Alaska for the 75th Anniversary Celebration. A Readers’ Theater Performance was created to dramatize some of the soldiers’ experiences working on the highway. Plans are underway to build a memorial sculpture to the black engineers titled “A View From the Mountain Top”, and to develop a display for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

The Alaska Highway Project Team:
Jean Pollard, Chair, Retired Educator
Jim Dault, Project Manager & Memorial Sculptor

Shala Dobson, Secretary, Sculptor, Retired Educator
Andrew Knoll, Tech support social media, Educator

Honorary Team Members:
Lael Morgan, Journalist, Author, Historian, Professor, Publisher
Katie Ringsmuth, Professor – UAA, Author, President – AK Historical Society
Pamela Orme, Retired Social Studies Coordinator - ASD

Distinguished Service to the Humanities in Community

Arctic Entries, Anchorage 

Arctic Entries is a volunteer-led community storytelling organization based in Anchorage. At each show, seven people — most with no previous training or stage experience — tell a true, seven-minute story about themselves in front of a live audience. What began nine years ago at a small playhouse theater has since grown into sold-out shows at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and a statewide audience through public radio and podcasts. All profits from ticket sales are donated to local social-service nonprofit organizations selected at the beginning of each season. Past nonprofit partners have included women's shelters, food banks, foster youth support groups, and end-of-life care providers. With the help of a loyal audience and lionhearted storytellers, Arctic Entries has helped 500+ people share their stories, donated nearly $170,000 to community causes, and continues to make a reality of its tagline: "Building Community, One Story at a Time".

Photo: From left: William Koeppen, David Onofrychuk, Eva Gardner, Rachel Walldholz, Cierra Mickens, Ben Matheson, Rosey Robards, Matt Rafferty, Emily Fehrenbacher, Colby Bleicher, Arran Forbes, Tim Paszalek. Not pictured: Shannon Kuhn and Vikram Patel.

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