CIRI Recognizes Shareholder, Elder and Youth Award Winners

CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich presented shareholder awards to Albert Harrison, Ryan Gump and Tamara Pickett at the Anchorage Potlatch. Photo by Jason Moore.
CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich presented shareholder awards to Albert Harrison, Ryan Gump and Tamara Pickett at the Anchorage Potlatch. Photo by Jason Moore.

Each fall, CIRI recognizes its most committed and community-minded shareholders and descendants with annual awards. The awards, given to shareholders and descendants who display an exemplary dedication to Alaska Native culture, heritage and communities, acknowledge each recipient’s accomplishments and contributions to Alaska Native people.

CIRI Board names Albert Harrison Elder Shareholder of the Year

A respected Elder of Ahtna Athabascan descent, Albert Harrison of Chickaloon Native Village received the Elder Shareholder of the Year award, which was presented to him at the Fall Friendship Potlatch in Anchorage. Harrison received this honor in recognition of his dedication to preserving Alaska Native culture and heritage and his outstanding service as a leader.

Affectionately referred to as “Uncle” Albert, Harrison was the catalyst for and supporter of Chickaloon Tribe’s Elders’ Lunch program, which was initiated in 2007. He attends Tribal meetings and other Tribal functions, participates in the Chickaloon Ya Ne Dah Ah Dance Group and many other cultural activities and rarely misses a Council Meeting, community gathering, wellness class or Elders’ lunch. Harrison welcomes everyone with a smile, sharing his musical talents, encouraging spirit, great sense of humor and infectious laugh.

In 2007, Harrison was elected to the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council and elected Council Treasurer in 2008. He currently serves as Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee, fulfilling his duties with wisdom, knowledge and professionalism. Harrison has been a constant mentor, teacher, volunteer and supporter of Chickaloon Native Village and several generations of tribal citizens.

Dr. Tamara Pickett is CIRI Shareholder of the Year

The CIRI Board of Directors selected Dr. Tamara Pickett (Inupiaq) as the recipient of the 2015 CIRI Shareholder of the Year for her outstanding services to the Alaska Native community, particularly through her work as a family practitioner at Southcentral Foundation’s Anchorage Native Primary Care Center.

“Dr. Pickett has led the way in the use of story to promote health and wellness,” says Southcentral Foundation President and CEO Katherine Gottlieb. “She paints a vision of a Native community that is physically active and harvests healthy food such as berries and salmon to eat. By sharing these stories, she encourages customer-owners to help their families preserve these traditional lifestyles.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and graduating from the University of Washington Medical School, Dr. Pickett returned to Anchorage to complete training as part of the Alaska Family Practice Residency. As a family practitioner at the Alaska Native Medical Center, where she has worked since 2001, Dr. Pickett provides professional care with a personal connection to each patient. Her caring approach is augmented by a deep appreciation and respect for the diversity of Alaska Native cultures and her belief that traditional lifestyles can help protect Alaska Native people from illnesses and disease.

“Dr. Pickett exemplifies the Nuka System of Care and strives to work in ‘relationship’ with customer-owners,” Gottlieb says. “She is an advocate and leader in soliciting customer input to improve clinic access and redesign our clinic environment to better serve the needs of multigenerational families.”

Her experience fighting her own medical battles, coupled with her professional training, gives Dr. Pickett a unique insight into the delivery of heartfelt care to customer-owners, particularly regarding cancer prevention, early detection and treatment options. She is a role model for the next generation of Alaska Native health care professionals.

CIRI descendant Ryan Gump receives Youth Award

Sixteen-year-old Ryan Gump, of Dena’ina Athabascan descent, accepted this year’s Youth Recognition Award for his superior academic achievements, demonstrated leadership qualities and dedication to Alaska Native culture and heritage.

Gump simultaneously demonstrated academic excellence and a deep interest in Alaska Native culture as a participant in West Anchorage High School’s international baccalaureate program, for which he completed a research project on the history, culture and language of the Dena’ina Athabascan people of the Cook Inlet region. He plans to pursue a degree in Business Administration with the goal of promoting the economic well-being of the Alaska Native community.

A Life Scout who is working on the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, Gump is active in the Boy Scouts of America, has worked on a variety of community projects and was an intern with Southcentral Foundation’s Responsible Adolescents in Successful Employment (RAISE) program.

“Ryan was a team player and really exemplified what teamwork means,” says Ryan Clayton, RAISE intern supervisor. “He maintained a positive attitude and was always willing to help.”

Gump is the son of CIRI shareholder Debra Call and Dr. Rusty Gump.