Alaska Federation of Natives release 2023 Citizens of the Year and Denali Award winners

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Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) – Every year, the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) honors those who have made outstanding contributions to their families and the Native community. 

The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes the contributions of a Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication, and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska.

The 2023 Citizen of the Year is Margaret Agnguarta Roberts, posthumously.

Photo courtesy of AFN

Margaret Agnguarta Roberts’ contributions have demonstrated life-long dedication and legacy building for the Alaska Native Community and to Rural Alaska.

Roberts was one of the original founders of the Kodiak Alutiiq Dance group over 30 years ago, reflected in her Alutiiq name, Agnguarta, which means One Who Dances.

Her parents were Martha Patarochin of Kodiak and Ronald Fadaoff of Woody Island.

She was born and raised in Kodiak and in 1967 graduated from Kodiak High School.

She shared fond memories of time spent in the Village Islands in Uganik Bay.

She told of a story of her mother befriending the deer, and how they would come right up to the porch and eat out of her mother’s hand.

Roberts met and married the love of her life, Gary, and they were blessed with four children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Joining local and statewide efforts to help those struggling with addictions was close to her heart as was faithfully attending the Annual Women’s Wellness Retreat, Dig Afognak Camp, and the AFN Elders and Youth Conference.

“Margaret’s lifetime advocacy for Native people will live on and will help to guide future generations. Without her dedication many of the programs, services, and policy changes would not have been made possible,” AFN stated via a press release. “We are honored with having benefited from Margaret’s wisdom, kindness and steadfast.”

The Denali Award recognizes the contributions of a non-Native person who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication, and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska. 

The 2023 Denali Award winner is Courtney Carothers.

Photo courtesy of AFN

Dr. Carothers is a Professor of Fisheries in the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in environmental anthropology from the University of Washington (2008) and a B.A. in Biology and Society, summa cum laude, from Cornell University (2000).

Dr. Carothers has devoted her career to working with fishing communities across Alaska to better understand the social and cultural dimensions of fishery systems and to improve education, research, and policy processes to better include these dimensions.

She partners with Indigenous communities to promote social and environmental justice goals.

Her work has advanced several disciplines in the study of human-environment relationships, cultural values, equity, and well-being.

Dr. Carothers’s current work is centered on transforming fisheries education, research, and governance to center and elevate Indigenous perspectives, including developing the Tamamta program which is supporting the first of several cohorts of Indigenous and allied students to pursue their graduate degrees in fisheries and marine sciences.

She is also contributing to deep relational work to advance dialogues on racial equity and transform fisheries education in Alaska.

She continues research on the social and cultural dimensions of fishery systems, including important long-term ethnographic research on the social and community impacts of fisheries privatization.

Dr. Carothers has served on a number of international, national, and state boards and working groups; received honors and awards, and published widespread research projects.