Sealaska Heritage Institute has chosen a Hoonah student as the
2015 recipient of the Judson L. Brown Leadership Award.
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
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
announced that $459,000 in Sealaska scholarships were issued
Sealaska Heritage Institute was 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.