December 2017 Back Page – Robert Nick, Alaska Federation of Natives Award Winner
Each year, the Citizen of the Year award recognizes the contributions of a Native who has demonstrated strong commitment, dedication and service to the Alaska Native community and to rural Alaska. The award is bestowed upon an individual selected by the Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors for exemplary work that has improved the lives of Alaska Native people. The 2017 Citizen of the Year is Robert Nick.
Robert has an impressive record of service in Alaska in rural education, public housing, small business, health research, Alaska Native political organization and legislation, and economic development. Born in Bethel to a family of community-minded individuals, Robert grew up in the village of Nunapitchuk and throughout Akulmiut—the tundra basin encompassing the drainage of Anarciq—on the Johnson River. With his family, he participated in subsistence activities, including hunting, fishing, gathering and trapping.
Robert’s decades of service began with his election to the Nunapitchuk City Council in 1963. He served as a board member of Alaska Village Electric Cooperative for three years in the mid-1970s. Many important regional and statewide organizations bear his mark, as he was a board member and co-founder of many entities that have become fixtures of Alaska’s business and political life, including the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp., Calista Corp., and the Alaska Federation of Natives.
Throughout his service in a variety of leadership roles, Robert has tirelessly shared his knowledge in Yup’ik language and traditions. His widely read columns in “The Delta Discovery” reinforce traditional values in a variety of contemporary contexts, and his writings reveal and pass on vital aspects of Yup’ik culture. With his ability to engage in scholarly work from a Yup’ik perspective, and to work effectively in bureaucratic and community settings, Robert has been invaluable in expanding knowledge of traditional and modern Yup’ik values, and in bridging traditional and Western ways of life.
Congratulations, Robert, for a richly deserved recognition!