About Our School
...or welcome to the William Tyson Elementary School home page! We take pride in our lovely school which officially opened on Sept. 5th, 1996. Our school is located at 2801 Richmond Ave. in Anchorage, Alaska. Our student population includes 350+ students from preschool through fifth grade.
William Tyson Elementary is committed to providing a supportive learning environment in which all students may realize their full potential. We foster academic achievement through high expectations and curricular standards of excellence. We value our diversity and respect each individual's uniqueness as we rely on a collaborative partnership with parents and the community.
Reverend William Apamaralria Joseph Tyson (1916 - 1993)
William Tyson was born in Kanillik or Akulurak, a small Yupik village near Sheldon's Point located across Norton Sound from Nome. During his childhood, William gathered vegetables and berries from the tundra. He fished, hunted, and trapped - using every bit of the animals for eating or clothing. He learned to respect the balance of the earth, its season, what it gave and what the Yupik must return.
In 1927, William was sent away to boarding school. There, he was exposed to changes and rules which were not set down by the elders of his home, but he adjusted and would always encourage children not to forget their heritage while living in the modern world.
In 1948, he married Marie, claiming that before he was only half a person and his wife made him whole. They taught their sixteen children the importance of being a good person and remembering their Native heritage.
Chief Tyson was an advocate for Natives statewide and fought for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (which was passed into law in 1971) and tribal enrollment. He did not hesitate to voice his strong concerns about the survival of his people and the land on which they lived. He spoke before the Alaska State Legislature and Alaska Federation of Natives to advocate Native rights. He was an original founding shareholder of Calista Regional Corporation.
In 1976, Chief Tyson was ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. As a deacon, he conducted church services at the Alaska Native Medical Center and local correction facilities.
Among his jobs were teaching school and being a postmaster, but his love was keeping Alaska Native tradition alive. Chief Tyson and Mrs. Tyson worked with students from pre-school through colledge in preserving Native arts and crafts, dancing, and clothing. They inspired the formation of the Greatland Traditional Dancers in 1983 after learning that no such group existed for urban students in Anchorage. They brought students and parents together to learn Yupik dances and songs. The dance group has performed throughout Anchorage and the Lower 48, including performing at the National Indian Education Association gathering.
Chief Tyson received many awards throughout his life for his efforts. He was named Elder of the Year by the Alaska Federation of Natives, and Parent of the Year by the Alaska Native Education Council and Community Member of the Year by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council/ Johnson-O'Malley Program. A scholarship was named after him by the Johnson O'Malley Program. For his many years of involvement in education by teaching Native culture via dance, arts and crafts, and Alaska Native Oral History, he was named the "Elitnaurvik Within East Chief" in 1988.
Chief Tyson was an important person in the Native and Non-Native Community; a positive role model, a teacher, a leader, an elder, a parent, and a volunteer. He was fondly referred to as "Grandpa" and never turned down a chance to assist a student. In his many roles, his message was to do your best, obtain the tools of an education and live a productive life.
We are pleased to honor Chief William Tyson with our school name.