Luminary Award Spotlight: Mike Williams, Sr.May 13, 2016
Our Healthy Alaska Natives Foundation Luminary Award winners are individuals recognized for their exceptional dedication and contributions to the Alaska Tribal Health System. Awards were presented April 2, and we are highlighting the winners.
The Community Spirit Award was presented to Mike Williams Sr., Native Village of Akiak, in recognition of his advocacy for sobriety and subsistence rights. Mr. Williams is often recognized in state and national Tribal gatherings calling for a life of sobriety and fighting for subsistence rights. He is known as the Iditarod “Sobriety Musher” as he has carried signatures of people who have pledged sobriety in his dog sled during the race.
Williams is a longtime mental health counselor, sobriety and subsistence rights advocate, in addition to being a dog musher. He completed 14 Iditarod and 20 Kuskokwim 300 dog races to promote positive messages of wellness and sobriety to communities along the trails and beyond. His advocacy has not only benefitted his home village of Akiak and the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, but has impacted the entire state of Alaska.
Williams also served as Chairman of the Kuskokwim Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and is a recognized leader in his participation at the Association of Village Council Presidents, Alaska Federation of Natives and the National Congress of American Indian events. His work inspires others by turning his personal challenges into determination for a healthy lifestyle, for himself, his family and for all Alaska Native people.
A video tribute to Mike Williams, Sr. can be seen online here. Many articles have been written about Williams’ inspiring Iditarod races, including this one from Indian Country Today that shares details of his book “Racing Toward Recovery”: Mike Williams Races Toward Recovery.
You can also read about the President’s Legacy & Leadership awardee, Dr. Matthew Schnellbaecher here and the Distinguished Provider award recipients, the Savoonga Community Health Aides and Practitioners, here. Luminary Award nominations are accepted in the fall.