Educator Emily “Ticasuk” Ivanoff Brown was dedicated to perpetuating Alaska Native languages and recording and passing on traditional Inupiaq oral history and knowledge. She was born in Unalakleet in 1904 to Amelia (Malquay) and Stephan Ivanoff. Her Inupiaq name, Ticasuk, means “a hollow place in the ground where the four winds store the treasure they gather from all parts of the world.” She taught as a grade school teacher for 30 years at schools in Kotzebue, Unalakleet, Shaktoolik and Meade River, advocating for bilingual education and developing a curriculum for the instruction of Inupiaq in elementary schools. She also helped produce a dictionary for her own Malimiut dialect and organized the Alaska Heritage Writer’s Association.
Emily was a life-long learner: During her lifetime she earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. Her master’s thesis was published into a book, “Grandfather of Unalakleet,” which was later reprinted as “The Roots of Ticasuk: an Eskimo Woman’s Family Story.” She received many awards throughout her lifetime, including a presidential citation from Richard Nixon for her “exceptional service to others, in the finest American tradition.” She was working toward earning a doctoral degree when she passed on at the age of 78 on May 3, 1982. The University of Alaska awarded her an honorary doctor of humanities degree on May 9, 1982.