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For Immediate Release
November 2, 2018
Contact: Angela Gonzalez, [email protected], (907) 677-1700

Anchorage, Alaska – First Alaskans Institute (FAI), a statewide Alaska Native non-profit organization, is proud to announce the awardees of the seventh annual Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala, to be held at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage on Saturday, November 17. Named in recognition of Howard Rock (Iñupiaq) and Senator Ted Stevens, the Gala celebrates the significant contributions of Alaska Native peoples and our friends in advancing our collective wellbeing.

The Smokehouse Gala Awards “remember those who have helped us, show our young people that we believe in them, and share the pride in our cultures,” said Willie Iġġiagruk Hensley (Iñupiaq), FAI Board Chair. With deep respect and gratitude, the First Alaskans Institute Board of Trustees and staff are honored to award the following:

First Alaskans Institute Young Native Leader Awardee: Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gidáak Blake (Haida/Tlingit/ Ahtna Athabascan)
This young leader has shown through dedication they are working to help Native peoples and our community with significant and profound purpose.

Barbara ‘Wáahlaal Gidáak Blake is from Prince of Wales Island and currently lives in Juneau, Alaska. She serves as Director of Native and Rural Affairs for the Governor and Lt. Governor of the State of Alaska. ‘Wáahlaal Gidáak belongs to the Káat nay-st/Yahkw ’Láanaas (Shark House/Middle Town People) Clan. She is a member of the Xaadaas Dagwii Dancers, Alaska Native Sisterhood, Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Heinyaa Kwaan Dancers. ‘Wáahlaal Gidáak earned her master’s degree from University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in Rural Development focusing her thesis on Fisheries Development in Rural Alaska. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Rural Economic Development and an associate degree in Tribal Management from UAF. ‘Wáahlaal Gidáak also holds a certificate in Tribal Governmental Business Law from Seattle University.

‘Wáahlaal Gidáak formerly served as Government Affairs Liaison for Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and also Assistant Professor for UAF Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development. In addition, she has worked as the Technical Assistant Specialist for Intertribal Agriculture Council and Program Assistant in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Office of Tribal Relations.

Friends of First Alaskans Ted Stevens Awardee: Lloyd Miller
This award is given to a person that has shown through their support of Native issues and partnership with our common cause that they are friends of the Alaska Native community.

Lloyd Miller, a partner in Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller & Monkman, has devoted his 40-year career to advocating for Alaska Native and American Indian interests. He is married to Heather Kendall-Miller, and they have two daughters and a granddaughter. Lloyd is best known for his long-fought victories in two United States Supreme Court cases — Cherokee Nation v Leavitt[2005] and Salazar v Ramah Navajo[2012] – which resulted in the federal government paying nearly $2 billion in damages to tribal organizations across the United States for breaching self-determination contracts with the Tribes.

Lloyd’s litigation work has intersected many fields of Indian law including protecting Native ways of life, hunting, fishing, voting and treaty rights, labor and trust law, tribal status, and land claims; and acts of law such as the Indian Child Welfare Act, Indian Self-Determination Act, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Indian Claims Commission Act and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He devoted much of his practice to pro bono work. Lloyd graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in Philosophy, Psychology and Religious Studies, and clerked for the late Federal Judge James M. Fitzgerald.

Howard Rock Alaska Native Leader Awardee: Emil Notti (Koyukon Athabascan)
This person has shown through their quality of character and effort to be a leader of distinct caliber because they put their community and people before themselves.

Emil Notti was born in Koyukuk, Alaska and has six children and eight grandchildren. He graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School and earned bachelor’s degrees in aeronautical and electrical engineering from Northrop University. Emil is U.S. Navy Veteran and worked for Autonetics, a division of North American Aviation, on the Minuteman Ballistic Missile. He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration in Alaska as an electronic engineer.

Emil was instrumental in calling for a statewide convening of Alaska Natives from every region of the state, later becoming the first Alaska Federation of Natives President. He was a force behind the land claims movement and negotiations that culminated in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. Emil served under several Alaska governors as Deputy Commissioner of Health and Social Services, Commissioner of Community and Regional Affairs and Commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. He ran for Congress in a 1973 special election against Don Young, losing by only 2,000 votes.


First Alaskans Institute is proud to congratulate each of these inspiring leaders! We thank their families and communities for supporting them in all they have done for our Native peoples and Alaska. For more information on the Smokehouse Gala, visit http://www.thehowardrockandtedstevenssmokehousegala.org. 

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About First Alaskans Institute (FAI):  At FAI we know we are responsible for carrying more than 10,000 years of ancestral knowledge into the future with rigor, humor, resilience, vigilance, and love. To learn more visit our website at www.firstalaskans.org, contact us at 907-677-1700 or email [email protected].

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