Hickel Day of the Arctic and ROA Award

The Hickel Day of the Arctic is organized annually by the Institute of the North to keep attention to Arctic issues and to recognize Hickel’s commitment to the region, including in 1964 to publish an article in Reader’s Digest titled The Day of the Arctic.

The Institute of the North established the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award to recognize an individual or organization based in Alaska, or around the circumpolar North, in recognition of their long-time achievements balancing development of Arctic resources with respect for the environment and benefit to communities and peoples of the North. Awardees have been selected by a nominating committee that reviews:

  • Active development of a resource in the Arctic
  • Social license and community support
  • Environmental sensitivity
  • Innovative solutions that have brought community economic development and or addressed crucial environmental challenges
  • Respect for culture and local/traditional knowledge
  • Term of service

As the former chairman and CEO of Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), it was Mr. Anderson’s insistence on drilling one more exploratory well in 1967 that led to the discovery of Prudhoe Bay, still the largest oil field yet found in North America. Mr. Anderson was also a former chairman of the Aspen Institute and warned of global warming caused by fossil-fuel consumption in the 1980s, and more than once advocated higher taxes on his industry.


The Institute of the North honored Anderson in 2001 with the creation and presentation of the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award for his vision and commitment to sustainable development within a framework of the Arctic environment.

Vincent Ostrom, honored in 2003, is known for his leadership in the drafting of the only natural resources title among all 50 state constitutions. The section (Title VIII) encouraged the development of the state’s natural resources, specifically addressing lands, water, minerals, fish, wildlife and timber. It mandated that Alaska’s lands shall be “public domain” and the resources therein are to be managed as a “public trust.”

Sen. Ted Stevens was honored in 2004 with the award for his lifetime of work in the field.  “There is no one who has done more to bring sustainability to Alaska’s Arctic region than Ted Stevens,” said Hickel during the award banquet. “The work he is doing to provide infrastructure while understanding the uniqueness of the Arctic will be one of his greatest accomplishments.”

Iceland’s President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, received the fourth Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award during the Arctic Energy Summit Technology Conference banquet in October 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska. In presenting the award, Walter J. Hickel, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, twice governor of Alaska and founder of the Institute of the North, noted the President’s vision for “The New North,” and for his commitment to alternative energy.

In 2011 Jacob Adams was the fifth recipient–recognized for his many contributions to development in Alaska, Arctic policy as a lifelong Barrow resident, his work through the North Slope Borough and his longtime leadership at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

The 2012 award was presented to Red Dog Mine, honoring an innovative operating agreement between NANA, a Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of Northwest Alaska, and Teck Alaska, Inc. (Teck), a U.S. subsidiary of Teck Resources Limited. The 1982 agreement is based on a strong foundation upon which they have built the future of a mine, a region and a state.

In 2013, the Award was presented to CH2MHill. CH2M Hill has long history of environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic progress; CH2M HILL’s professionals apply sustainability principles to practically every design, construction, and operations challenge clients face, possessing both the culture and the talent to deliver lasting results for complex, multi-disciplinary, long-term projects. As a leader in the industry and one of the first engineering and construction companies to publish a sustainability report in 2005, CH2M HILL continues a tradition of excellence and transparency in reporting on internal operations related to sustainability.

In 2014, the Award was presented to Alaska Clean Seas. Alaska Clean Seas (ACS), as a world class spill response organization, has consistently demonstrated the ability to achieve the highest environmental and safety standards, and, in order to ensure the highest levels of oil spill response both in the Arctic and around the world, coordinates with other top level organizations to collaborate and share arctic and cold weather response capabilities.

In 2015, the Institute of the North is hosting an awards luncheon in Unalakleet where we presented the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award to Wilfred Boyuck Ryan of Ryan Air. Wilfred Ryan Sr. began regular charter flights across Alaska and founded Unalakleet Air Taxi in 1953. With assistance from his wife Eva, their business prospered. Boyuck took the company, now known as Ryan Air, from a small, three-plane, two-pilot operation to the largest commuter carrier in the state, with a new mission of providing air cargo service in rural Alaska markets. Today, Ryan Air is one of Alaska’s key Bush freight carriers, operating 14 aircraft out of seven hubs. Ryan Air serves over 70 villages and employs over 90 people. Boyuck’s leadership in business and throughout the region is well-recognized.

In 2016, to celebrate our annual “Day of the Arctic,” the Institute of the North organized a special luncheon featuring speakers from the Northern Forum, an intergovernmental, subnational platform for advancing sustainable development in the Arctic. Speakers included:

  • Yuri Zakharinsky, Vice-Governor of Krasnoyarsky Krai, Chair of the RCC
  • Alexander Mazharov, Vice-Governor of Yamalo-Nenetsky Autonomous Okrug
  • Alexander Zhirkov, Speaker of the Parliament of Sakha Republic
  • Leonid Nikolaev, First Vice-Governor of Chukotsky Autonomous Okrug

The State of Alaska rejoined the Northern Forum this year and is working to revitalize this valuable organization. Alaskans have contributed immensely to that value over the years, and we expect this to grow as we work across borders to see tangible benefits to lives and livelihoods in the Arctic.

The Institute awarded Dr. Artur Chilingarov with the Award in 2017. The Institute of the North has had a long relationship with Chilingarov, as did Hickel, and his work is in line with the Award’s intent. Mr. Chilingarov spans bridges political differences and has seen numerous awards, including:

  • Hero of the Russian Federation (January 9, 2008) – for courage and heroism displayed in extreme conditions, and the success of high-latitude Arctic expedition
  • Hero of the Soviet Union (February 14, 1986) – for exemplary performance targets for the release of the research vessel Mikhail Somov from the ice of Antarctica, leadership in rescue operations during the period of drift and displaying courage and heroism
  • Order of Naval Merit (27 January 2003) – for outstanding contribution to research, development and use of the oceans
  • Order of Lenin

In 2018 the award was presented to Mr. Charles Bettisworth and Mr. Larry Cash for their lifetime contributions to improving the living and economic conditions in Alaska through innovative design, architecture, and construction. The Sustainable Arctic Awards reception was part of the Week of the Arctic’s North by North at the Anchorage Museum.