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2019 Award Winners


The Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities are presented by the Alaska Humanities Forum to recognize those Alaska individuals and/or organizations whose efforts have contributed to telling the stories of our past, present, and future, and whose work has helped build a more culturally diverse, economically vibrant, and equitable Alaska where people are engaged, informed, and connected. These awards honor the well-established -- as well as the lesser known -- who have stepped up and made an impact in our communities and our state.

  • Distinguished Service in Education: Chugach Regional Resources Commission (based in Anchorage)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities by contributing to a better understanding of the world, one another, and the human experience. 

    Chugach Regional Resources Commission (CRRC) is a non-profit, inter-tribal consortia formed by seven Tribes in the Chugach Region.  The Commission protects the subsistence lifestyle through the development and implementation of natural resource management programs to assure the conservation, sound economic development, and stewardship of natural resources in the traditional use areas. 

    In 2016, CRRC initiated a traditional foods program to conduct a baseline assessment of food consumption and harvest patterns to develop wellness strategies in the face of a changing environment. As part of this effort, a traditional foods poster was created to serve as a window into the lives of the people of the Chugach, a glimpse of the traditional foods that are important to their cultural identity, and a stepping stone to protect a subsistence way of life that desperately needs to be preserved. The project brought to life the realization of the ways that the connections and memories of traditional foods are intertwined with the stories of our lives. Through this carefully designed and implemented visual representation of traditional foods harvested and relied upon during each season we experience in Alaska, CRRC was able to bring the community together and provide a platform to engage, inform, and connect. This exquisite poster serves as a legacy to the people of Alaska, especially those living and subsiding in Southcentral Alaska.

  • Distinguished Service in Leadership: Laureli Ivanoff (Unalakleet)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities through their commitment to improve Alaska's social, economic, and civic life.    

    Writing columns from and about her home in Unalakleet, Laureli Ivanoff leads with stories of home, of place, and of connection. Her work strengthens communities by illustrating a side of rural Alaska too rarely seen in mainstream media. Her columns celebrate life in rural Alaska, illustrate the importance of deep connections to place, and remind us all of the power of stories and self expression. Often, Ivanoff leads and strengthens with inspiration, writing of her family, the food she gathers and prepares, and her responses to current issues and challenges. But her work also calls directly for much needed awareness and change. In "Why Can't Media Portray the Rural Alaska I Know?" she writes: "Yes, our communities have challenges. Issues. Families do struggle. Our communities have need, as do any. And it's true, our communities aren't economically as vibrant as some whose very roads are built from oil wealth from rural Alaska. But we are not impoverished. We are not poor. We are not the negative stories I seem to read day after day after day. This is why I write."

  • Distinguished Service in Community: Bede Trantina (Anchorage)
    This award recognizes an Alaska individual or organization that has helped strengthen communities by forging connections between people across, race, class, and cultural divides. 

    Bede Trantina spent four decades generating a profound sense of community in the most populous region of Alaska as “the voice of KSKA.” She joined the public radio station as a volunteer in February 1979, six months after it went on the air. By summer she was a regular employee; by fall she was a fixture in the public mind. Trantina held that special place for the next 39 years. She built the most listened-to radio station in Southcentral Alaska, and in doing so she persistently knitted together the community she served. She took listeners’ needs and feedback to heart, often reaching out behind the scenes to learn not only who listened, but also why they were so passionate.  Over the time Trantina served as Program Director, Anchorage became one of America’s most diverse communities, and KSKA became a beacon of understanding and respect.

  • Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities: Maida Buckley (Fairbanks)
    To say that Maida Buckley has been a champion for civic education would be an understatement. During her twenty-five year career as a high school teacher, Buckley also worked with prospective social studies teachers in the teaching program at UAF, and served as coordinator of the Youth Vote, National History Day, and We the People programs. In an era of declining knowledge of our history and our country's founding documents, and amidst minute voter turnout, each of these programs serve to combat apathy and to promote the responsibilities that citizens must fulfill in order to maintain the health and well-being of their local community, state, and nation. Recently retired, Buckley leaves behind a legacy of civic commitment.  All three programs that she ran continue under new leadership that she helped recruit to ensure the programs’ future success and longevity. Many former students, including numerous social studies teachers in Alaska, cite Buckley as a true inspiration.


  • Arts Advocacy: Shannon Haugland (Sitka)
    The individual or organization has exhibited a long-standing dedication to promoting the arts through volunteer, administration, legislative or professional efforts and the nomination clearly shows that the nominee has exhibited significant and successful impact on the arts in Alaska. 

    Shannon Haugland lives in Sitka, Alaska, where for the past 29 years she has been a news reporter for the Daily Sitka Sentinel. She is the producer for the Greater Sitka Arts Council's Sitka Community Theater plays, musicals and radio theater productions, president of the Sitka Film Society and the host of the Broadway and early jazz program "Anything Goes" on KCAW-FM. She is a member of the Sitka Rotary Club, and works with students statewide after they have gone on exchange. Born and raised in the Seattle metropolitan area, she grew up in an athletic and musical family, but also enjoyed film and theater from an early age. She graduated from high school at the Lakeside School in Seattle, and Colgate University, where she majored in English and political science.

  • Alaska Native Arts: Annette Island School District, Jack and John Hudson (Metlakatla)
    Outstanding effort to perpetuate and promote Alaska’s Native arts and cultural heritage; significant impact of contribution that advances Alaska Native language or culture.  The individual or organization clearly demonstrates efforts that have significantly improved the preservation, perpetuation, and active practice of Alaska Native arts.   

    The Native Art program at the Annette Island School District has been committed to the advancement of traditional Northern/Northwest Coast Art for over forty years, driven by the passion and commitment of Jack Hudson (John Hudson Jr.) and his son, John Hudson III. 

    Jack Hudson started the Native Art program at Metlakatla High School in the 1970’s. He spent many years fighting for classroom space and funding, against the threat of having the program cut. Despite some rocky times, he prevailed, and grew the program from a shed next to the school into the world-class program it is today.

    After thirty-seven years of teaching, Jack was ready to retire, and, in 2010, his son John took over as Annette Island School District's Native Arts teacher. He had big shoes to fill, but John took over his father's legacy with the same commitment for the guardianship of the traditional Tsimshian art form. 

    As the program continues to grow under John's leadership, Native Art has become one of the most popular classes within the school district. In the past several years, students have entered and won numerous prizes at Celebration's Youth Juried Art Show, and have been part of several gallery shows including an exclusive show at Quitana’s Gallery in Portland, Oregon. 

  • Arts Education: Nita Rearden (Homer)
    The individual or organization has exhibited a long-standing dedication to arts education in Alaska and the nomination clearly shows the nominee has exhibited significant and successful impact on arts education in Alaska.

    Nita Yurrliq Rearden, is a Yup’ik person, born and raised in Kotlik, Alaska on the lower Yukon River. Nita and her husband, Michael, raised 4 children: Stefan, engineer, lives in Anchorage with wife Devki; Spencer, biologist lives in Bethel with wife Katie; Sara Jung, first grade teacher, lives in Bethel with husband Eric; and Sterling, engineer, lives in Anchorage with fiancé, Erin George. Altogether, she has 6 grandchildren: Kyle, 20, Kayla,18, twins Jackson and Nicholas, 8, Paula, 6, and Ashley, 3. After earning a degree in education, Rearden taught in Bethel for the Lower Kuskokwim School District and in Kotzebue for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District for
    30 years. Rearden's passion for Yup’ik art led her to develop Alaska Native Cultural Art Kits that helped teachers to use and integrate cultural knowledge into their lessons. Retired from the school district, Rearden continues to contribute to the community as a cultural arts advocate, educational consultant, and board member of Alaska Arts Education Consortium. She feels fortunate that she is allowed to leverage her passion in education, art, and Yup’ik culture to cultivate, teach, and expand cultural knowledge and understanding. 

  • Individual Artist: Jon Van Zyle (Eagle River)
    Awarded based on artistic leadership, distinction and merit; Recognition of artistic contribution to the state or community through previous honors and awards, reviews or articles; Longevity of impact to state or community.

    Far removed from the stereotyped fantasies of the average tourist promoter, Jon Van Zyle actually explored the wilds that he paints so delightfully and, at 76, he’s still at it. With more than 40 books to his credit, published not only in English but four foreign languages, he has brought at least two million readers to Alaska. His record as an Iditarod finisher in 1976 and 1979, and as producer of official Iditarod posters since 1979, earned him a place in the Iditarod Hall of Fame. 

    Van Zyle's donations to his community have been counted on for decades, as have his school visits and special projects for youngsters. In addition, he has been producing an average of from 60 to 80 original works per year which carry on Alaska’s legacy. Debbie Miller, an award-winning author who has worked closely with Van Zyle perfectly summed up the impact of his talent in her comments on his autobiography. “Jon Van Zyle’s art is a lasting gift to Alaska and the world. His rustic portraits of Alaska’s wildlife, landscapes and its people have captivated both young and old for decades,” she wrote. “In addition to his incredible collection of gallery art, Jon has illustrated many award-winning books for children such as Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights and the dog mushing classic, The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail. “For the past 20 years, I’ve witnessed many young readers in schools be spellbound by Jon’s engaging illustrations of polar bears, caribou, moose, wolves, sled dogs, and countless other animals. His artwork not only reflects the beauty and magnificence of Alaska, it inspires many young minds to learn more about the Far North and to become artists themselves. Jon’s art legacy is one of Alaska’s greatest treasures.”

  • Lifetime Achievement in the Arts: Dot Bardarson (Seward)

    Dot Bardarson's colorful watercolors, depicting Alaskan sea life, birds, flowers and people, have earned her recognition as one of Alaska's outstanding artists. Dot's early years of marriage found her living aboard a cannery tender as a deckhand and later as “first lady” at various outlying salmon and crab canneries in Alaska. But she always found time to paint. 

    Making her home in Seward, Dot became a leader in the arts, organizing statewide juried shows and a local arts organization.  She also acted in plays and created set designs for the local theater group, Port City Players. She served six years on the Alaska State Council on the Arts, traveling to meetings all over the state. Dot built and operated the popular Bardarson Studio in the Seward harbor area for 20 years, representing 35 Alaskan artists. Then she threw herself into planning and painting murals with the Seward Mural Society. As a result of her efforts, former Governor Sarah Palin declared Seward the “Mural Capital of Alaska”, and Dot was named “Queen of Arts” by the Seward Arts Council in 2014. Dot has received awards and commissions, both private and from the State of Alaska's Percent for Art Program, and she was showcased as a Favorite American Artist in 2017 by the Minnesota Arts Magazine, Exploring TOSCA.

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