This past Monday, the 2010 Yukegtaaraat Celebration Committee had the opportunity to sit with and hear a little about our three winners of this year’s event. Please take the time to read below and learn a little about these wonderful individuals who we are honoring this weekend.
~ Nuyailnguq Rose Domnick ~
2010 Yukegtaaraat honoree Rose Domnick was born in the now abandoned village of Cuqartulek, located in the land area between the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Her early years were spent moving seasonally from camp to camp, one of the last groups to practice a semi-nomadic lifestyle to acquire the resources needed for the family to survive. Eventually, they settled in St. Mary’s, where Rose attended school at the St. Mary’s Catholic Mission and began to learn the English language. Rose went on to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, majoring in Criminal Justice – the first Alaska Native ever to receive such a degree – and adding a double major in Yup’ik Eskimo.
Rose returned to the Delta, working for the Alaska Department of Corrections in Bethel. In her twenty years with the Department, Rose served as Correctional Officer, then Probation Officer, ultimately becoming Assistant Superintendent and then Superintendent of the Bethel correctional facility – the first Alaska Native to achieve that position in the State. After her “retirement,” a misnomer to anyone who knows her, Rose began to work tirelessly on various efforts to promote the Yup’ik culture’s ability to provide the tools and resources for its own healing. This work has been largely on a volunteer basis or for very little pay.
The true heart of Rose’s life’s work has been focused on the goal of restoring some of the family and social harmony that existed in Yup’ik society in past times but has since deteriorated. Anyone who knows her knows how deeply she loves children and believes their safety and well being is of utmost importance. She recognizes that they are the next generation of parents and are a fresh chance to break the cycle of pain and suffering that afflicts far too many of our children and families. She is committed to stable families, healthy lifestyles and self-determination through the resources of the Yup’ik culture.
This care and concern for the next generation began at an early age for Rose, when she would take other children whose parents were drinking out on “picnics” with snacks she had obtained with her own meager funds to allow them some respite from the turmoil of their daily lives. Her love for others and conviction that people can heal followed her to her time with the State Department of Corrections, where she continually pushed for culturally relevant programs to help people break the unhealthy cycles that they and their families were in. Rose currently works for ONC. Rose has also worked with a number of organizations she felt worked toward the goals she held as important, including Tundra Women’s Coalition, Ayaprun Elitnaurvik (Immersion) School, Pitka’s Point Native Corporation, parent advisory committees and numerous ad-hoc groups of concerned citizens. Throughout this lifetime of effort, Rose has also always been there for her family. Her daughters know she is always accessible and she never stops trying to guide them in a loving way to be strong, healthy, proud and happy Yup’ik women. Countless children have learned from Rose, baking holiday treats in her kitchen or in traditional rites of passage. Rose always takes time to recognize and speak with children and teens, knowing that to plant seeds of kindness and care now will grow a strong and stable next generation.
~ Chikoyak Irene Kaganak ~
Scammon Bay resident Irene Kaganak is being honored by the 2010 Yukegtaaraat for her work in the field of substance abuse treatment and prevention in both her home village and throughout the Delta. Irene has been a compassionate and helping person to many individuals impacted by substance abuse, domestic violence and grief.
Irene’s greatest gift is her practice of cultural values, which she uses to teach people in recovery based on her own personal experiences with alcohol and domestic violence. Irene teaches healthy alternatives to overcome such challenges, and often goes above and beyond the call of duty to help others. Whether it is a need for someone to speak with or to listen, Irene has been indispensable in many people’s paths to recovery.
Being there for others started early in Irene’s life, as she left her education in a BIA school during 6th grade to care for her siblings when her mother was hospitalized for tuberculosis. Irene met her husband David by arrangement through David’s mother. After marrying him in 1957, Irene had four children and adopted three more. Her living legacy now includes eighteen grandchildren. Irene credits David for being a main inspiration for her today as he supports her in everything she does. Irene also credits God for giving her the strength and abilities she shares with others.
From 1994 to 2006, Irene worked at PATC treatment center in Bethel and as an alcohol and drug counselor in Scammon Bay, counseling patients in both English and Yup’ik. She has often traveled back and forth between Scammon Bay and Bethel working in this field, spending time in both places. One of Irene’s many achievements is graduating with her certificate in Rural Human Services through UAF-Kuskokwim Campus. Known for giving honest feedback as well as encouragement, Irene is a respected and deeply valued member of her community. Her use of humor to get a point across is well known!
Although she retired from her work in treatment centers two years ago, Irene continues to help the people of her community and speak on the topics nearest to her heart. She also loves to go camping and enjoys sewing and cooking. Irene, quyana for your work helping people to have healthy and whole lives, and for your care and concern for the people of the Delta!
~ Temintak Andrew Beaver ~
Andrew Beaver of Kwigillingok is a 2010 Yukegtaaraat Honoree because of his dedication to the protection of tribal children in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Born at Avngulek, the mouth of the Johnson River, and educated at a BIA school in mechanics, Andrew has made up his mind to work in Human Services until he is “too old” and can no longer do this important task.
Andrew’s mission to protect the children of Kwigillingok and the Delta began from his own difficult personal experience as a child. He is determined that children should not suffer silently as he did. Andrew encourages victims of abuse not to hide in shame, but to speak out about their experiences and prevent the cycle of abuse and neglect from continuing. In educating others in the human services field, he emphasizes the importance of protecting children before physical, sexual or emotional injury ever happens, because if abuse occurs even once, it will affect the child. Andrew firmly believes that children are to be kept safe from abuse and harm, and to be respected.
His efforts have borne good fruit: in his village there are no tribal children in State custody and there are no child in need of aid cases. This amazing feat has been achieved through the implementation of a Child Protection Team. The Team hosts workshops and provides resources to community members, educating them on the negative effects and prevention of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence. With this knowledge gained, community members are better equipped to not only shelter children from harm, but also begin the healing process for parents and other adults.
The Child Protection Team model is now being implemented in other towns and villages around the state of Alaska, having been proven to be an effective method for keeping families whole and healed. Andrew presents to various groups to help get them started on the path to having such success in caring for the next generation. His coworkers believe his hard work is the reason the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) program has grown to be what it is today! Quyana Andrew!
Biographies written by Michelle DeWitt and photos courtesy of families of 2010 winners. Quyana!