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WASHINGTON - Clarence Lee Alexander, 72, the former Grand Chief of the Gwich'in people of Alaska, also known as Fort Yukon, was among 13 individuals nationwide to receive the Presidential Citizen's Medal from President Barak Obama in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
Clarence Lee Alexander receive the Presidential Citizen's Medal from President Barak Obama
Sometimes called the "grandfather of tribal government" in Alaska for his long-held role as Chief of Fort Yukon, Clarence Alexander has worked extensively to clean up the Yukon River. His persisted work resulted in the closure of numerous open-burning dumps and the removal or recycling of millions pounds of waste.
"It was really gratifying to see my father recognized. He does not seek the limelight for the things he does. He does not do what he does for the accolades; he does what he does because they are the right things to do," said Alexander's son, Dacho, who traveled to Washington to see his father receive the Presidential Citizen's Medal. "He was always special to me as I was growing up and he still is to me now that I am an adult. It was nice to see him honored."
Alexander was joined in Washington by other members of this family and Jon Waterhouse, the executive director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council. Alexander is the chairman of the Council, which has numerous offices in Alaska.
The President was scheduled to meet with the recipients for an hour, but was unable to do so since he had to deal with the issues surrounding the death of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi that occurred earlier on Thursday.
Below are President Obama's remarks about Alexander:
"Clarence Lee Alexander: A dedicated patriot and conservationist, Clarence Lee Alexander has helped lead the charge in protecting the Yukon River Watershed. In addition to working to save our waterways, he has been instrumental in saving lives through the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, which provides health care to some of the most remote villages in North America. He exemplifies the difference one person can make in preserving our natural resources and cherished traditions for the next generation of Americans. For his work to protect our precious national treasures, the United States honors Clarence Lee Alexander."
He served as the first chief of Fort Yukon from 1980-1994. He founded Gwandak radio, KZPA 900 am, which broadcasts from Fort Yukon throughout the area known as the Yukon Flats.
The Presidential Citizen's Medal is the country's second highest civilian honor.
Photo credit and thanks to Dacho Alexander for the photo he took in the East Room of the White House.
posted October 24, 2011 6:00 am edt
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