The Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala pays tribute to two men who exemplify commitment to Alaska and the First Peoples of this land. Their legacies provide a pathway for understanding the critical importance of indigenous ways of life, our connections across this great land and the role of our friendships in helping steward our Native peoples and Alaska into the next 10,000 years... Please watch this video to learn more about the men this gala is proudly named after.
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Proceeds from the Gala benefit First Alaskans Institute, a registered 501c3 organization.
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2015 Smokehouse Gala Emcees
Gavin Hudson (Tsimshian)
Gavin Hudson is from the Tsimshian community of Metlakatla, located on Annette Island in southern Southeast Alaska. His Tsimshian name is Huk Tgini’itsga Xsgiik, which means “Eagle Who is Always Watching Over Others.” He is a member of the Laxsgiik Eagle Clan. Gavin serves on the city/tribal council of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Islands Reserve. He is also the chairman of The Haayk Foundation.
Raised during the revitalization of Tsimshian culture in Metlakatla, he watched closely as trailblazers dared to overcome historical trauma and accusations of witchcraft and deviltry. He watched brave leaders fight to bring back Tsimshian art, song, dance, regalia and feasting. With encouragement from his family, he took part in these new, yet ancient, practices.
As he got older, Gavin became a student of Sm’algyax, the language of the Tsimshian. With help from his elders, he began writing new Tsimshian songs. As a songwriter, Gavin found his place as a contributor to the resurgence of his culture.
His songs inspired the creation of two new Tsimshian dance groups, which he leads. The first is the Laxsgiik Eagle Clan Dancers. He is a proud member of the Eagle Clan and is honored by the clan’s use of his original compositions.
The second group was a project never before been attempted in Metlakatla’s 127-year history, a youth Christian Tsimshian dance group. Although Gavin does not subscribe to any religion, he teamed up with the Presbyterian pastor to weave together traditional Tsimshian culture with the Christian faith. Armed with original songs and dances, the Metlakatla Presbyterian Youth Fellowship Dancers have proudly performed in dozens of churches throughout California, Nevada and Alaska. This project has proven that you can have your faith and your culture.
Gavin was overwhelming elected to the Metlakatla Council. His emphasis is to create a strategic plan for the future, which includes Tsimshian language revitalization. He stresses professionalism as well as diplomacy and cooperation, because he knows that the most pure form of leadership is leadership by example.
He attended the Community Doers Gathering in Fairbanks as well as the Bethel Lock-In. These gatherings, hosted by First Alaskans Institute (FAI), revealed a growing solidarity between the indigenous peoples of these lands.
Inspired by FAI, he and two close friends cofounded a nonprofit organization called The Haayk Foundation. Haayk translates to “Spirit,” and it is the mission of this foundation to strengthen the spirit of the Tsimshian people by preserving, promoting and revitalizing Tsimshian language, culture and history.
Donna Aiggailnguq Bach (Yup’ik)
Donna Aiggailnguq Bach (Yup'ik) was born and raised in Bethel and recently accepted the public relations & marketing director position for SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium out of their Juneau offices. Previously she served in a similar capacity for six years in her hometown as the director of public relations & intergovernmental affairs for the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. The youngest of six, Donna is the daughter of Donald “Sompy” Elliott and Evelyn Pete Elliott, the granddaughter of the late William Pete, Sr (Ohagmiut) and Cecelia Vaska (Paimute) and great granddaughter of the late Alexander (Papaq) Vaska and MaryAnn Atauciq (Mamaq) also of the middle Kuskokwim/Yukon region.
She is a graduate of Bethel Regional High School and Gonzaga University. She is an Orutsararmiut Native Council tribal member and Calista shareholder. She is married to Chris Bach and they have two children, Zahn (4) and Santi (2). In addition to outdoor activities such as camping and fishing with her family, it is not uncommon to find her jogging, flying a kite, taking photographs, skiing or discussing wild food preservation techniques with other Alaska subsistence aficionados. Donna has served on the Spirit of Youth board, promoting Alaska youth recognition for young people doing great things throughout the state, and also moonlights in assisting with the Native Youth Olympic games as an occasional judge.
"It is an honor to co-emcee the annual FAI Smokehouse Gala with Gavin and help support and promote responsible planning for Alaska, for the next 10,000 years . . . and for generations to come. Contributing to this cause is definitely worth while and I am happy to assist the great work FAI is doing not just for selfish reasons - or because it's a great organization led by incredible leaders past and present, but also because decisions we make today as stewards of ourselves, our environment, land and culture will help foster improved outcomes for my children, and their children and maybe even their children's children. How can one not love planning this far in advance? What a tremendous undertaking, but what an important one! The more we make room for education for our future, perhaps less reliance upon our state or governments will occur - this is truly empowerment. Who wouldn't want to be part of this story? Thanks for the opportunity. " – Donna Aiggailnguq Bach