BSNC congratulates shareholder Roy Ashenfelter of White Mountain on receiving the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Katie John Hunter-Fisher Award. This award is given to an Alaska Native who exemplifies and preserves the spirit of successful subsistence hunting, trapping and sharing and our way of life. Nominees acknowledge and ensure that the next generation of providers will carry on the traditions and customs in harmony and peace to sustain their extended families. Ashenfelter was nominated by BSNC and recognized at the 2022 AFN Convention this week.
Ashenfelter grew up subsistence hunting and fishing. His first on-his-own subsistence activity consisted of setting snares and traps on the outskirts of White Mountain until he received tutelage from his grandma Mary Ashenfelter. Ashenfelter has advocated for the subsistence way of life locally through his job, statewide while attending fish and game meetings, nationwide on a federal level as a board member for AFN and internationally serving on the Inuit Circumpolar Council board representing the Bering Strait region.
While working for Kawerak in the Subsistence Department, Ashenfelter advocated for the reduction of by-catch of salmon in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery by attending many North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings. Ashenfelter attended numerous Alaska Department of Fish and Game meetings where he advocated to the Board of Fisheries for the reduction of intercept fishing and Board of Game meetings to help with management of game.
Ashenfelter supported various proposals at Federal Subsistence Board (FSB) meetings that would help Bering Straits residents gain better access to much needed subsistence foods. He also participated in a committee that drafted the FSB consultation process which mandated that both tribes and Native corporations be consulted on subsistence issues.,
Ashenfelter served on the Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group. The working group used their traditional knowledge and shared points of view and advice to protect the health and habitat of the caribou and subsistence activities that are part of our traditional way of taking care of our land and animals.
On a personal basis, for the past 15 years or so, Ashenfelter has regularly volunteered in Nome to go into the school to talk to the students about the importance of subsistence, hunting techniques, being outdoors, safety, hunting and fishing beliefs, methods and means of hunting and taking care of each other and the game caught.
In cooperation with Nome Eskimo Community and Kawerak, as part of the Kawerak Regional Conference, Ashenfelter took a group of youth out musk ox hunting. The youth were able to observe the hunt and help butcher and take care of the meat which became part of the menu. Ashenfelter also demonstrated the butchering of reindeer and seals and has won the dried fish cutting contest at one of the conferences.
Ashenfelter demonstrates a dedication towards the subsistence way of life through living the lifestyle, embracing and observing changes and being aware of what may harm this way of life. Ashenfelter has served on the White Mountain Native Corporation board since 1984 and on the Bering Straits Native Corporation board since 1998. He continues to advocate for the right to live a subsistence way of life. Ashenfelter lives in Nome, is married to Loretta Bullard and they have two daughters.