Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2023 Young Providers Award and Youth Culture Bearer Award. BSNC shareholder Martin “Qusiq” Kimoktoak of Nome will receive the Young Providers Award in honor of the late Francis Alvanna. BSNC shareholder Justin “Adsuna” Maxwell of Anchorage will receive the Youth Culture Bearer Award in honor of the late Paul Tiulana. These awards annually recognize young people who contribute daily to the health and well-being of their families, communities and culture. Kimoktoak and Maxwell will be recognized during the 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Anchorage, Alaska.
BSNC shareholder Martin “Qusiq” Kimoktoak respects all Elders and is passionate about his King Island culture and traditional way of life. He is the son of Linda Scott and the late Harold Kimoktoak Jr. He gives the Elders in his community Native foods like maktak, dry fish and quaq. He demonstrates humility and respect and lives in a way that exemplifies Inupiaq values.
Kimoktoak has been dedicated to Native dancing his entire life. He learned to make drums from his uncle. He continues to learn drumming and dancing from the Elders. He is the lead drummer of the King Island Dancers of Nome and knows most King Island songs, actively continuing the tradition and culture. Drumming and dancing bring the community together in healthy, peaceful ways. He drums and dances with groups from Teller and Little Diomede. He is helping bring back the songs and dances of Diomede. He also brings drumming to people who cannot attend public events at Quyanna Care Center. Kimotoak embodies Inupiaq values, lives his culture, and helps others to learn and live their culture too.
Kimoktoak will be recognized in honor of BSNC shareholder Francis Suluk Alvanna. Alvanna was born on King Island to John and Magdelena Alvanna. Alvanna kept his culture alive through ivory carving, making traditional walrus stomach drums and dancing with the King Island Dancers of Nome. He even made two King Island kayaks with modern day materials. Alvanna loved to share stories of growing up on King Island. He also served on the Board of Directors for the King Island Native Corporation and the IRA council for the King Island Native Community.
Alvanna kept his culture alive through ivory carving, making traditional walrus stomach drums and dancing with the King Island Dancers of Nome. He even made two King Island kayaks with modern day materials. He was excellent at string games. Alvanna loved to share stories of growing up on King Island. Alvanna perpetuated the King Island culture and traditions throughout his life.
BSNC shareholder Justin “Adsuna”Maxwell has danced with the Kings Island Dancers of Anchorage since he was a baby. Maxwell is the son of Brenda and Ricky Maxwell. He is now a dancer, drummer and singer with the group. Maxwell participates in subsistence fishing to provide for the Elders. He helps the Elders by shopping, cleaning, and performing household repairs. He is working on a bachelor’s in business and plans to pursue a master’s in business management when he completes his bachelor’s degree.
Maxwell will be recognized in honor of his great-grandfather BSNC shareholder Paul Tiulana. Tiulana was born on King Island in 1921 and was taught at an early age how to hunt, read the weather and ice floes, and stay physically fit among many other survival skills. Tiulana grew up to become a leader in the preservation of Inupiaq traditions. He made the perpetuation of the culture and heritage of the King Islanders a major concern and devoted much of his life to this work.
In 1956, Tiulana, his wife Clara and their children moved from Nome to Anchorage. Life in Anchorage took a considerable adjustment. He missed traditional dancing so much that he formed the King Island Singers and Dancers of Anchorage dance group in the 1970s. Tiulana taught the group the songs and dances passed down from generation to generation for as long as King Island people have existed. The group has traveled to places such as Paraguay, South Korea, New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Santa Fe, Seattle and numerous places throughout Alaska.
Tiulana was an accomplished ivory carver and mask maker and taught carving classes and workshops for the Alaska Native organizations that serve Anchorage. He spearheaded a project to build a traditional skin boat, or umiak, in 1982 and he played a key role in the revival of the ceremonial Wolf Dance, which was finally performed in 1982 for the first time in more than 50 years. In 1983, Tiulana was named Citizen of the Year by the Alaska Federation of Natives for his work in promoting cultural heritage. Rarely had a civic award of this nature been presented to a practicing artist. In 1984, he was recognized by the National Endowment for Arts as a National Heritage Fellow.