Richard Dauenhauer, retired professor of Alaska Native Languages and Culture at the University of Alaska Southeast, is the 2013 recipient of the University of Alaska Foundation’s prestigious Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence. The Bullock Prize for Excellence includes a cash award that is the largest single award made annually by the UA Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
“It is with great pleasure that we announce that former University of Alaska professor, Richard Dauenhauer is this year’s Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence recipient,” announced Jo Michalski, chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “Edith Bullock established the award to showcase the extraordinary achievements of individuals on behalf of the University of Alaska system. Dr. Dauenhauer’s work in preserving endangered Alaska Native languages, especially Tlingit, exemplifies excellence by connecting the university with our native language citizens and introducing their culture to the world.”
Described as a renaissance man, Dauenhauer is a poet, translator, Tlingit expert and a former Alaska Poet Laureate. He received his B.A. in Russian from Syracuse University; M.A. in German from the University of Texas; and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Wisconsin.
Dauenhauer became an honorary member of the Tlingit nation upon his marriage to Nora Marks Dauenhauer, a Tlingit native. Together, they have anthologized four volumes of translated poems and written more than 30 articles of translations, linguistics, Tlingit literature, language shift, history and cultural survival. Dauenhauer has created a framework in which students can work with fluent speakers of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian before the languages die out.
“Without a doubt, the revitalization of Tlingit language and linguistics today would not have been possible with the achievements of Richard Dauenhauer, in support of the University of Alaska’s mission: to advance and disseminate knowledge through creative teaching, research and public service with an emphasis on Alaska, the North and their diverse peoples,” noted Robin Walz, Ph.D., in his nomination.
Dauenhauer has taught at the university since 1984. He was appointed President’s Professor of Alaska Native Languages and Culture jointly at UAS and UAF in 2005. During his tenure he designed and taught courses leading to the Tlingit language minor and was instrumental in building up the Alaska Native Languages and Studies program at UAS. He created several joint educational programs between the university and Alaska Native tribal organizations in an effort to preserve Alaska Native languages and cultures.
An oft-invited lecturer nationally and internationally, Dauenhauer’s recognition goes beyond Alaska. In 1990, the Smithsonian Institution invited him to represent the United States in a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. folklife project on cognate culture and work with Soviet colleagues on the folklore of Native peoples of Alaska, Siberia and the Far East. He also earned two Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Awards for his books “Ano shi Lingit Aani Ka, Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804” and “Haa Tuwuna agu Yis, for Healing our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory.”
The Bullock award was established by the late Edith R. Bullock, who served the university for 30 years as a member of the UA Board of Regents and the UA Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The UA Foundation raises, invests and manages privately donated funds for the sole benefit of the University of Alaska.