Josephine Bourdon Recognized by Alaska Legislature for Work in Revitalizing Native Culture

Josephine Tatauq Bourdon was officially honored by the Alaska Legislature for her more than 30 years of public service to Nome and the Bering Strait Region. Bourdon was presented with a legislative citation during last night’s regular Nome City Council meeting.

Local Mayor John Handeland began by saying the official document was sponsored by Representative Neal Foster of Nome after he read about Bourdon’s achievements in preserving Alaska Native languages.

“After some other research online, he [Rep. Foster] decided to do a citation to honor her for her many years of teaching in the district and incorporating cultural activities. Also promoting and revitalizing the language and culture in the area through a local radio station [KNOM], cultural projects, and being a mentor and role model to Elders, youth, AFN etc.”

– Mayor John Handeland

After thanking the Legislature, her family and friends who have supported her, Bourdon went on to personally honor those who helped teach her during her formative years.

“We’ve all been impacted by our teachers positively, obviously I’ve taught for 30 years… So these teachers I have happy memories, on my educational journey here. I’ll give you a little bit of a historical perspective. My first teacher I remember was Mrs. Belaize. Mrs. Belaize was my kindergarten teacher.”

-Josephine Tatauq Bourdon

Councilmember Meghan Sigvanna Topkok commented on how important the work is that Bourdon has done in the region, saying language preservation is a way for Alaska Native people to heal from the trauma of being stripped of their languages for so many years.

And even though Bourdon is currently retired, she says she has more teaching left to do.

“But I’m not done, I continue to work mostly on language things. Teaching Inupiaq language at the University [of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus], high school … I’ll be teaching out at [Nome] Beltz this fall with the high school kids.”

Josie Tatauq Bourdon continues to be a key member of the Inupiaq Choir for Nome’s Community United Methodist Church and serves on Sitnasuak Native Corporation’s Elders Committee.

If you’re interested in taking her Inupiaq language class through the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Northwest Campus in the fall, contact the campus at 443-2201.

Image at top: Josie Bourdon at the regular Nome City Council meeting receiving a legislative citation. Photo by KNOM.