A Nome resident was the recipient of this year’s ‘Katie John Hunter-Fisher’ award at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention on Oct. 21.
Roy Ashenfelter, originally from White Mountain, was recognized for his dedication to and love of the subsistence way of life. Ashenfelter says he hunts year-round in the Nome area.
“It’s a real treat to try to help and teach our young people. I have a thumb drive that I call ‘Four Seasons’. It’s based on all the different activities that I do with my family throughout the year,” Ashenfelter explained.
That includes spring hunting for marine mammals and fall hunting for moose.
As soon as he stood up to the podium, Ashenfelter began thanking others for this opportunity. He acknowledged his bosses, his wife and in-laws, and especially his dad.
“In the fall time we would go and cut wood. All the hunting activities, that he thought about, were necessary to put food on the table. I am grounded with his thoughts of preparation. Because without preparing for all the things that you do, it really hinders your opportunity,” Ashenfelter said.
One of ten kids, Ashenfelter grew up subsistence hunting and fishing with his family in White Mountain. He continues that tradition today, hunting alongside his wife Loretta, and his daughters and grandson.
Ashenfelter takes pride in sharing his catch with others outside of his family as well.
“Throughout the winter, my family invites other families to eat with us, doesn’t matter who they are. My youngest daughter was with friends from all walks of life and they come in, they have a chance to eat our Native foods. And I really enjoy sharing that,” Ashenfelter said.
The Katie John Hunter-Fisher award is given to an Alaska Native person who ensures, “the next generations of providers will carry on the traditions and customs in harmony and peace to sustain their extended families.”
Image at top: Roy Ashenfelter of White Mountain is joined by his family on stage at the 2022 AFN Convention. Photo by Mary Ryan, KNOM (2022).