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Alaskan Clarence Alexander wins Presidential Citizens Medal

Alaska Beat

Alaska’s own Clarence Alexander will be the recipient of this year’s Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. “This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” President Obama said in a release.  “They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”

Alexander, who is 72 years old, is among 13 who will receive the medal. In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed “exemplary deeds of service” in their communities. The Alaskan community spoke.

Here’s how the release describes Alexander:

Sometimes called the “grandfather of tribal government” in Alaska for his long-held role as Chief of Fort Yukon, Clarence Alexander has done extensive work cleaning up the Yukon River, resulting in closure of numerous open-burning dumps and the removal or recycling of millions pounds of waste. Alexander is former Grand Chief of the Gwich’in people of Alaska.  Alexander receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating how much good a dedicated leader can accomplish.

Alexander is also a co-founder of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, and the founder of Gwandak radio, KZPA 900 am, which broadcasts from Fort Yukon.

In a statement, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said the following about the award:  “I am proud that one of our very own Alaskans is the recipient of such a prestigious award.  It reminds me of the famous Margaret Mead quote -- Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.  Congratulations Clarence on your achievement.”