UAS Faculty Emerita Ernestine Hayes honored by the Rasmuson Foundation and Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Ernestine Saankalaxt Hayes has recently been honored with two awards. A former Alaska State Writer Laureate, she was chosen to receive the Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist award as well as the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s first ever Marie Darlin Prize.

The Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award “honors a lifetime of creative excellence and outstanding contribution to the state’s arts and culture,” and comes with a $40k prize. Hayes is the 18th Alaskan named by the Foundation as a Distinguished Artist. 

Hayes is also the recipient of the first annual $5,000 Marie Darlin Prize from the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. This is to be awarded annually to “an individual or collaboration whose work, through a combination of vision and shared sense of community, expresses a regional commitment to women’s rights, social history, or community advocacy,” according to its announcement. “Ernestine Hayes’ passionate commitment to Juneau and Alaska history, and her advocacy for Alaska Native rights, culture, and decolonization, expressed both through her writing and countless public presentations, is unparalleled.”

Ernestine is the author of several critically acclaimed works, including two memoirs, Blonde Indian and The Tao of Raven. She earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from UAS and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Growing up in Juneau, Saankalaxt is a member of the Kaagwaataan clan. In 2019 she retired as a Professor of English Emerita, a distinction conferred by the Chancellor, on just a small portion of retiring professors who have demonstrated excellence, following consideration of recommendations by the faculty.

Chancellor Karen Carey remarked, “I can’t think of a more deserving person for these awards than emerita Ernestine Hayes. Her work at UAS made a significant mark on the lives of our students throughout her time on campus.”


Ernestine Hayes with Chancellor Emeritus Rick Caulfield at UAS Friends of the Egan Library annual Author’s Reception

(credit: University of Alaska Southeast Egan Library)