Nome's Mayor visits with Senator Sullivan and Coast Guard Commandant Zukunft. Photo a courtesy of USCG, used with permission. (2017)

Two individuals with ties to Western Alaska are recipients of this year’s Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards.

The Distinguished Service to the Humanities award in education went to Roy Agloinga who is originally from White Mountain. He has been working to preserve his community’s dialect of Inupiaq.

KNOM was unable to reach Agloinga via email before the publishing of this story.

But according to a press release from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Agloinga was one of the last people to spend time with native speakers of Igaluik when he was growing up in White Mountain. Igaluik is an offshoot dialect of Qawairaq Inupiaq.

In recent years, Agloinga has helped preserve this dialect by co-authoring the Qawiaraq Iġałuik Inupiat Dictionary.

He is an Alaskan, “whose actions and contributions make Alaska better, stronger, and healthier place to live,” according to the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Agloinga was joined by former Mayor of Nome, Richard Beneville. As Beneville passed away in May of 2020, his Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award is given posthumously.

The press release highlighted Beneville’s contributions to local theater productions, inspiring artistic abilities in others and his advocacy for tourism in Alaska. Here’s Beneville during one of his Nome tours recorded in 2015 by KNOM.

“Dearest Alaska, my name is Richard Beneville and I’ve lived in Nome for 30 years and I lived in Barrow for seven years before that, and I’m a tour guide. I love what I talk about because it’s so beautiful. The people, the life, everything about it [Nome, Alaska]. Hello Central!” Beneville exclaimed.

And a special treat, Sonya Kelliher-Combs of Nome was selected as the artist to create each unique award for this year’s recipients. The awards were officially given out by Governor Mike Dunleavy on Jan. 11.

This article has been updated to reflect that Agloinga was willing to be interviewed for this story but KNOM was unable to get in contact with him before this story was published.

Image at top: Nome’s former Mayor Richard Beneville visits with Senator Sullivan and Coast Guard Commandant Zukunft. Photo a courtesy of USCG, used with permission. (2017)