JUNEAU, ALASKA — Sealaska Heritage Institute has chosen a Hoonah student as the 2015 recipient of the Judson L. Brown Leadership Award.
The recipient, Amelia “Tlaagoonk” Wilson, is a Chookaneidi (Eagle/Bear), Kaach.adi Yadi (Child of the Raven/Land Otter). She is pursuing a master’s degree in rural development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Rural and Community Development. The $5,000 scholarship goes to students who have demonstrated academic achievement and leadership skills, said SHI President Rosita Worl, adding only one person wins the annual award.
“Amelia has shown remarkable leadership skills through multiple programs, including as a representative on the Hoonah City Council. We are very proud to honor her with this award,” said Worl, noting Amelia also carries a 3.8 grade point average.
Amelia served as director for Upward Bound through the UAF’s Interior Aleutians Campus and currently serves as an advisor to the Cultural Leadership Club and the Future Educators of Alaska Club in Hoonah. She serves as vice president of Hoonah Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 12 and sits on the Hoonah City Council. Amelia is a member of the Hoonah Liquor Board and Chairman of the City of Hoonah Budget Committee. She is a member of the Gaaxw Xaayi Dance Group and Member of the Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity Project with First Alaskans Institute. She also works as the librarian at the Esther Greenwald Public Library.
”All endeavors encompass my passion for uplifting our youth and honoring our elders so that our future reflects the strength of our past. By earning my master’s degree in rural development, I hope to build upon my ancestors’ thousands of years of social innovation and carry on the essence of what it means to be Tlingit,” Amelia wrote in an application essay.
“Above all, I wish to hold our people up and help to carry us forward so that Hoonah is at the forefront of cultural happenings and we are a model community that others seek to partner with and visit.”
The award comes from an endowment established in 2006 through a $100,000 donation from Chris and Mary McNeil. It was named for Chris McNeil’s uncle, the late Tlingit leader Judson Lawrence Brown, who was a forceful advocate for education and leadership development. The endowment is administered by Sealaska Heritage Institute.
SHI also administers a scholarship fund for Sealaska, which just announced that $459,000 in Sealaska scholarships were issued this year.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private, nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.