Foundation Honors 2009 Educator of the Year
Rudy Hamilton, Doyon Foundation’s 2009 Educator of the Year, is pictured here with
Doris Miller, the Foundation’s scholarship program manager; Sonta Hamilton, Hamilton’s daughter;
and Dawn Dinwoodie, the Foundation’s board president.
Rudolph “Rudy” Hamilton was recently selected as Doyon Foundation’s 2009 Educator of the Year. The award recognizes a Doyon shareholder who has proven their devotion to helping direct the future through education, by promoting Alaska Native education and supporting Alaska Native students. Hamilton was presented with the award at the Doyon, Limited Annual Meeting of Shareholders on March 20, 2009 in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Hamilton, who was born and raised in Shageluk, is the son of Adolph Hamilton and Margaret Andulee Hamilton, and the grandson of paternal grandparents Joseph and Marsha Hamilton, and maternal grandparents Albert and Cecelia Phillips. Hamilton attended high school at Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka until his senior year, when he transferred to West High School in Anchorage. He graduated from West in 1972.
Over the years, Hamilton has been an active member and leader within his community, serving on diverse organizations, including the Fairbanks Town and Village Association, Four Rivers Mental Health Agency, the Governor’s Mental Health Advisory Board, Shageluk City Council, Shageluk Tribal Council, and the University of Alaska. He has also been asked to participate in subsistence committee meetings in Juneau, been invited to speak at the Tanana Chiefs Conference convention, and has had several articles published in The Council, Tundra Times and Anchorage Daily News. For the past 15 years, Hamilton has served on the Iditarod Area School District Board, and currently serves as chairman. Hamilton is also employed as the power plant operator for the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative.
According to his wife, Joy, Hamilton is an “outstanding and devoted husband and father, honoring the teachings of his parents and grandparents by teaching his own children the importance of learning and carrying on culural traditions.”
“He wants to pass his traditional knowledge on as it was passed down to him. He knows that to keep it alive, he must pass it down. He wants the kids to know who they are and where they came from, and he wants them to pass it down, too,” she said.
Hamilton is also a positive role model for many young people in his village – taking the time to not only tell them about things, but to show them. For example, he recently took a group of young men out on the Iditarod Trail to show them where their grandfathers used to trap, in the hopes it would inspire them to trap there again as part of their own family tradition.
“He is a role model not just in word, but in deed. He has taken many young men under his wing, taught them survival and subsistence skills, and actively shares his values with them,” said Hamilton’s wife, who is a teacher at the local school. “He’s a strong believer that when you show kids things, it gives them feeling of ownership. It’s their land, heritage and history.”
Hamilton’s wife added that she is impressed with her husband’s ability to balance both his cultural education and the Western side of his education.
“Having the book-learned knowledge is necessary. But knowing and experiencing your culture is what makes you Native and ties you to the land,” she said. “Those are things Rudy represents through his teachings and values of education, Native and Western.”
Hamilton also freely volunteers his time to support student projects. For example, he recently accompanied three high school students to the GLOBE Learning Expedition and 12th annual conference in South Africa. There, the students made a presentation on a research project regarding the effect of climate change on cultural traditions, while Hamilton was selected as the closing Indigenous speaker.
In the words of the youth Hamilton interacts with, he “has taught us about our land,” “doesn’t just tell us about things, he shows us,” “makes us think about things,” “is a very good listener,” “tells stories about our ancestors from long ago,” and “has helped me to understand who I am as an individual and member of this village.”