Alaska Native Language Preservation & Advisory Council

Council Members

The Alaska Native Language Preservation & Advisory Council members are appointed by the Governor of Alaska, and serve three-year terms. Council members are Alaska Native language professionals who provide recommendations for and foster the development of a comprehensive statewide Alaska Native language policy, strategy for improving the preservation, restoration and revitalization of Alaska Native languages.

Senator Donald Olson Inupiaq

Senator Donald OlsonSenator Donald Olson is Inupiaq from Golovin. Lifelong Alaskan, Senator Olson was born in Nome and is a doctor, pilot, reindeer herder, businessman and Legislator. He and wife Willow have four children: Colby, Martin, Donald Jr.and Maggie Rae.

Representative Benjamin Nageak, Iñupiaq
Rep. Benjamin Nageak

Representative Benjamin Nageak is Iñupiaq from Barrow. He was the North Slope Borough Mayor in the mid 1990s and just completed his freshman term as representative during the 28th Legislature.

Annette Evans Smith (Chair), Athabascan, Alutiiq and Yup'ik
Annette Evans Smith

Evans Smith, of Anchorage, is the Alaska Native Heritage Center President and CEO, where she has worked in several roles since 2003. Under her leadership, the center has initiated a statewide language summit, two pilot language immersion camps, language circles, and a study to identify Alaska Native language programs and learners of Alaska Native languages. The Center's hope is to connect Alaska Native residents in Anchorage to the language programs that exist across Alaska. Her prior work involves service with Southcentral Foundation and The Northern Forum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and is also a trustee with the Western States Arts Federation. Evans Smith is actively learning the Yup’ik language through her grandmother and more recently Denaakk'e (Koyukon Athabascan) from teachers Susan Paskvan, Eliza Jones, and Esther McCarty.

April Gale Laktonen Counceller (Vice-Chair), Alutiiq
April Counceller, Co-Chair

Counceller, of Kodiak, is an assistant professor of Alutiiq language and culture at Kodiak College. She is active in language preservation efforts, serving as a member of the Cultural Survival Inc. Native American Language Advisory Panel, the Qik’rtarmiut Alutiit Regional Language Advisory Committee, the Alaska Anthropological Association Board of Directors, the Alutiiq New Words Council, and the Koniag Inc. Board of Directors. She has also received the Harry S. Truman Scholar, Leadership and Public Service Award from the Truman Foundation. Counceller holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and American civilization from Brown University, a master’s degree in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a Ph.D. in language planning and Indigenous knowledge systems from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Delores Churchill, Haida
Delores Churchill

Churchill, of Ketchikan, is a renowned weaver who teaches basketry at the University of Alaska Southeast, a second career she took on after retiring from work at Ketchikan General Hospital. She is one of the few remaining speakers of the Haida language and is active as a board member, teacher, and cultural leader with Ketchikan Indian Community. Churchill holds an honorary doctorate of humanities from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, Inupiaq
Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle

Alvanna-Stimpfle, of Nome, is the Kawerak Inc. Eskimo Heritage Program Director, and an Inupiaq instructor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus. She has also worked as an Alaska Native education coordinator and classroom teacher, and as a teaching mentor with the Alaska Statewide Mentoring Project. She also is a member of the King Island Drummers & Dance Group and a former member of the King Island Traditional Council. Alvanna-Stimpfle holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in Inupiaq Eskimo language from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Walkie Charles, Yup'ik
Walkie Charles, Chair

Charles, of Fairbanks, is an assistant professor of Yup’ik Eskimo at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He grew up in Emmonak speaking Yup’ik before earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a master’s degree in education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics at UAF. His research interests are second language acquisition, dynamic assessment, and socio-cultural theory. As a native speaker of Yugtun, one of his primary interests is to maintain his language through teaching it at educational levels.


For more information about the Alaska Native Language
Preservation & Advisory Council contact:

Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
Phone: 907-269-3646