CIRI shareholder Donita (Daz’I K’isen) Louise Slawson of Tyonek, Alaska, and NANA shareholder John (Aqpayuk) Paul Hensley of Kotzebue, Alaska, were married Oct. 15, 2008, at home in Anchorage with their family and friends in attendance. John proposed to Donita at Church on the Rock in Wasilla, Alaska, during a Fresh Start meeting on Aug. 11, 2008. The event was officiated by Robert Adams, a close friend of the groom. The maid of honor was the bride’s sister, Becky Peratrovich. The bridesmaids were the groom’s sister, Martha Dey; the bride’s youngest daughter, Feona D. Peter; and the groom’s daughter, Sheila Hensley. The groomsman was the groom’s brother-in-law Rudolph Dey. The groom’s aunt, Stella Hensley, made the bride and groom traditional atticluks for the wedding. The groom’s granddaughter, Ariel Collin, was the flower girl. The groom’s grandson, Joel Collin, was the ring bearer.
Donita grew up in Seattle and Tyonek, graduated from Anchorage’s E.L. “Bob” Bartlett High School in 1976 and graduated from Kenai Peninsula College in 1999. She is a Dena’ina Culture Bearer, having written and published the book “Dene’ Knowledge and Spirituality.” Donita leads a Dena’ina dance group and is the lead vocalist for the Alaska Native Tikahtnu (Cook Inlet) Band. She currently works as president of Tyonek Native Corp. in Anchorage. Donita is a member of the Native Village of Tyonek and a shareholder of both Tyonek Native Corp. and CIRI. She is the daughter of the late Fred Slawson from Newburg, Mo., and the late Louise (Chuitt) Slawson-Standifer from Tyonek.
John is the son of the late Fred Hensley of Kotzebue and the late Nereid (Nash) Hensley of Point Hope, Alaska. The groom was born and raised in Kotzebue and graduated from Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Ore., in 1967. He then attended adult vocational training in Inglewood, Calif.’s Western State College of Electrical Engineering. John is a world-renowned Inupiat baleen basket maker, a well-known Alaska Native musician, and the lead guitarist and male vocalist for the Tikahtnu Band. He is a member of the Native Village of Kotzebue and a shareholder of both Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp. and NANA Regional Corp.
Both Donita and John love writing songs, sharing contemporary gospel/classic rock/country music, taking long walks together, attending church together, and traditional Inupiat and Dena’ina singing and dancing, as well as sharing each other’s company.