Worl is the 13th recipient ever to win the award, which has been awarded every other year since 1984 by the American Anthropological Association, the world's largest organization of individuals interested in anthropology.
SHI President Rosita Worl
"I am humbled and honored to be thought worthy of this award," said Worl, noting the team who nominated her and put forth considerable effort to see it through.
Worl was nominated by three members of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage, including Steve Langdon, professor and chair of the department, Anthropology Professor Kerry Feldman and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Liberal Studies Phyllis Fast and Dan Monteith, an assistant professor of anthropology at the Department of Social Science at the University of Alaska Southeast, where Worl taught courses in anthropology.
"This award ... truly fits the exemplary achievements of Dr. Worl's long and stellar career in applying anthropology to public life in Alaska and beyond," Langdon wrote to the awards committee. "She is truly deserving, and I believe has accomplished more than any other practicing American anthropologist presently living."
Worl, whose Tlingit names are Yeidiklats'okw and Kaa.haní, is Tlingit, Ch'áak' (Eagle) moiety of the Shangukeidí (Thunderbird) Clan from the Kawdliyaayi Hít (House Lowered From the Sun) in Klukwan. She has managed SHI since 1996 and has served as assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Southeast. She has a Ph.D. and a M.S. in anthropology from Harvard University and holds a B.A. from Alaska Methodist University.
She has worked on behalf of Native people on in various capacities. As an adviser on Alaska Native and rural affairs to Gov. Steve Cowper in the mid-1980s, she was instrumental in developing the governor's policy establishing the state's relationship with tribes for the first time in Alaska. As a director of the Alaska Federation of Natives, she fought for Alaska Native rights to subsistence resources while seeking legal means to protect those uses into the future. As a member of the National Review Committee, she has strived to protect rights of Native people seeking to repatriate cultural objects under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. She also recently helped guide the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution's new National Museum of the American Indian. As a director of Sealaska Corporation, Worl successfully fought to include shareholder descendants as shareholders. As president of SHI, she has led efforts to document and perpetuate Native languages in innovative ways and to weave Native language and culture into curriculum used by public schools. She has authored or co-authored more than 60 publications, papers and books and numerous editorials and reviews.
The award program was initiated by royalties from Applied Anthropology in America, a volume dedicated to the late anthropologist Solon Kimball, who did groundbreaking anthropology work concerning family and community in rural Ireland and on the Navajo reservation. The award will be given at the association's 2008 annual meeting, scheduled November 19-23 in San Francisco. The association, which has approximately 10,000 members, expects 5,000 people to attend the meeting.
SHI is a Native nonprofit established in 1981 to administer educational and cultural programs for Sealaska, a regional Native corporation formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The institute's mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures. Language revitalization is a priority of SHI.