FAI Announces the Awardees of The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala

FAI Announces the Awardees of The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala

Anchorage, Alaska, Nov. 23, 2013 – First Alaskans Institute (FAI) is proud to announce the awardees of their second annual, signature event – The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala – to be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook. 

The Gala celebrates and recognizes the contributions of Alaska Native peoples and our friends in advancing our collective and common cause. It is named in honor of Howard Rock (Inupiaq) and Ted Stevens as lifetime supporters for Alaska Native rights. In describing the purpose of the event, Willie “Iggiagruk” Hensley (Inupiaq), FAI board chair, said that it is meant to “remember those who have helped us, show our young people that we believe in them, and share the pride in our cultures.”

It is from a place of deep respect and gratitude for their work and commitment to Native peoples that on behalf of our board and staff, we award the following:

The recipient of the First Alaskans Young Native Leader Award, which honors a person who has shown through dedication that they are working to help Native peoples and their community with significant and profound purpose, is Evon Peter (Gwich’in). Evon has been a tireless advocate and champion of our tribal peoples, especially our young people. He has served in multiple leadership roles, and for the past 18 years, Evon has helped develop and lead cultural gatherings, camps and retreats to invest in the cultural, spiritual and personal growth of young people in programs designed to be relevant and incorporate culturally based healing. We look forward to his continuing commitment to advancing Alaska Native peoples.

The recipient of the Friend of First Alaskans Ted Stevens Award, which recognizes a person that has shown through their support of Native issues and in partnership to our common cause that they are friends of the Alaska Native community, is Diane Kaplan. Diane has worked diligently to ensure Alaska communities are valued and heard. She has helped create a lens through which non-Native philanthropic and government representatives can experience village and rural Alaska to become better, more inclusive partners. She has also been an active supporter of the arts, Alaska Native arts and artists in particular. Diane is the president and chief executive officer of Rasmuson Foundation, and among many areas of work and achievement, Diane was previously president and chief executive officer of Alaska's 28-station public radio network and has been appointed by Governors Murkowski, Palin and Parnell to the Alaska Children's Trust, currently serving as its vice chair. We are honored to call Diane a true friend of First Alaskans.

The recipient of the Alaska Native Leader Howard Rock Award, which honors a person who has shown through their quality of character and effort to be a leader of distinct caliber because they have put their community and people before themselves, is Mary Jane Evans Fate (Athabascan). Mary Jane is a leader for Natives and women alike, serving as the first in many different capacities and on numerous boards. She was the first Native women of her generation to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was the first Alaska Native woman to serve on the Alaska Airlines Board. She worked tirelessly for the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and also served as the first woman co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. Mary Jane has always been a 'forward thinker,’ never allowing negative comments or blockades to diminish our collective goals. We thank her for her many years of distinguished leadership, and for her steadfastness of vision and dedication to our cultural survival on behalf of our Alaska Native community.

We congratulate each of these three inspiring leaders and thank their families for allowing them to do so much for our Native peoples and Alaska.

Proceeds from the event benefit FAI, a statewide Native nonprofit that serves as a catalyst for conversation, convener of minds and cross-sector collaborator on issues impacting Alaska Native peoples and communities. Learn about our work at firstalaskans.org. For more information about the Gala, visit thesmokehousegala.org.


FAI press release