AFN singles out Thompson family, others for honors

Posted: Monday, October 23, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The weeklong Alaska Federation of Natives convention ended here over the weekend, but not before the organization honored some of its own.

The late Morris Thompson was named Citizen of the Century by the AFN, whose leaders created the one-time posthumous award in honor of Thompson's contributions to Alaska's Native people.

Thompson's relatives accepted the poster-sized, framed certificate citing the accomplishments of Thompson and his wife, Thelma, and honoring their daughter, Sheryl.

They were killed in January in the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 off the California coast.

''With an award such as this, I see the beauty and the warmth I saw in them,'' daughter Allison Mae Thompson said in a short speech of thanks Saturday.

Morris Thompson, 60, died shortly after retiring as president and chief executive officer of Doyon Ltd., a regional Native corporation in the Interior that he helped save from bankruptcy and turned into one of Alaska's most successful companies.

As a younger man, he helped secure passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the 1971 law creating the state's 13 regional corporations, and served as a commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and special assistant to the secretary of the Interior.

Other AFN award winners included:

--Culture Bearer Award: Frank Andrew, 83, builds Yup'ik qayaqs and helped found the Qayanek Project in Kwigillingok to keep the use of qayaqs alive.

--Parents of the Year Award: Reuben and Sharon Mixsooke, from Unalakleet, where they are raising five teenagers and an adopted boy and a grandson. They also volunteer in organizations promoting children's activities.

--Hunter-Fisher Award: Leo and Alberta Stephan teach children about subsistence, including at the Eklutna annual Spring Fish Camp. Alberta Stephan has written books about Native foods. Her husband is a commercial fisherman and past president of Eklutna Inc.

--Della Keats ''Healing Hands'' Award: Mary (Takak) Katchatag, 67, of Shaktoolik, who retired from the Norton Sound Health Corp. in 1998 after more than 30 years of service.

--Public Service Award: Henry Ivanoff Sr., and Norman and Bernice Heyano. Ivanoff helped form the Southern Norton Sound Advisory Committee and the Bering Sea Fisherman's Association and worked to ban the purse-seining fleet from fishing herring in Norton Sound and Western Alaska. The Heyanos are emergency services volunteers at Dillingham and contribute to other civic efforts.

--Elder Award: Clarence ''Miinglu'' Irrigoo Sr. and Annie P. Nelson. Irrigoo was a minister at Gambell before moving to Nome in 1965. He once bought a generator from the U.S. Army and provided electricity to his entire neighborhood. Nelson, of Dillingham, who will turn 100 next month, is a former teacher and a skilled seamstress, dog musher, hunter, trapper and fisherman.

--Roger Lang Youth Leadership Award: Teisha Simmons, who was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a 1992 car accident. She is pursuing a master's degree in psychology and volunteers for many youth and Native oganizations.

Small Business Award: Maggie Olson ran a store with her late husband, Martin, at Golovin. She also runs a commuter airline and a bed-and-breakfast and volunteers in the community.

--Health Award: Carolyn J. Crowder, 42, recently retired as president and CEO of the Norton Sound Health Corp.

--Eileen Paniegeo MacLean Education Award: Harold Kavelook Sr., a former educator in northern Alaska, who encouraged adults to be patient, sincere and honest with children and to help them aim high rather than douse their motivation by pointing out their failures.

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