SHAREHOLDER OF THE YEAR
Richard “Greg” Encelewski
For his exemplary dedication to Alaska Native culture, heritage and communities, Richard “Greg” Encelewski received CIRI’s 2017 Shareholder Year Award. Along with a career that included the State Highway Department and 25 years with ConocoPhillips, Greg became the first president of Ninilchik Natives Association Inc. (NNAI). His leadership also helped forge stronger ties between the village corporation and the Ninilchik Traditional Council.
Greg is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in the Vietnam conflict. A hunter and commercial fisherman with a deep appreciation of traditional food resources, he has helped fight for subsistence rights for the people of Ninilchik and was instrumental in guiding the finalization and settlement of NNAI’s land selections under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
ELDER OF THE YEAR
CIRI’s Elder of the Year award recognizes a CIRI Elder who exemplifies the values and qualities important to CIRI shareholders and Alaska Native people. Born in a sod house in 1937 in Hooper Bay, Alaska, Gemma drove a dog sled and gathered ice for drinking and cooking. She was one of the first women to leave the village to attend the Mt. Edgecumbe nursing school in Sitka. Over her more than 20 years as a nurse Gemma fiercely advocated for children, with a particular focus on anti-bullying initiatives and access to medical care and services for all.
Married for 46 years to the late Kenneth Gaudio, Gemma has two daughters and four grandchildren. She still weaves the famous Hooper Bay-style grass baskets, practices a subsistence lifestyle and shares her Yup’ik culture, stories and wisdom with youth.
YOUTH RECOGNITION AWARD
The CIRI Youth Recognition Award recognizes young people for superior academic achievements, demonstrated leadership qualities, dedication to Alaska Native culture and heritage, outstanding contributions to community and family, and exceptional determination and stamina in overcoming significant life challenges.
Julianne Wilson of Kenai, Alaska, excels in both academics and athletics. She is a member of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe and has been involved in the educational and cultural programs of the Tribe since she was 3. A natural leader, she was a high school honor student, earning many awards and taking advanced-placement classes. Julianne has 14 years’ experience as a dancer and took first place in the one-foot high kick and seal hop at the 2017 Arctic Winter Games. A full-ride track and cross-country running scholarship recipient, Julianne is in her first year at Valley City State University in North Dakota.