February 27, 2003

For Further Information Contact: NARF, (303) 447-8760



BOULDER, CO – March 3, Mike Williams, a Yupiaq Eskimo from Akiak, Alaska will compete in the Thirty-First Annual Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race introducing his 2003 race theme "The Native American Rights Fund – Keeping Hope Alive for the People."

Mike, a former board member of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is a veteran of the Iditarod having competed 9-times in the race starting in 1992. In 2002, Mike finished in 38th place. In 1998, he was awarded "Most Inspirational Musher."

This year 65 mushers have registered for the race whose trail route spans 1,147 miles with 20 checkpoints scheduled between Fairbanks and Nome, Alaska. The race will start in Anchorage on March 1 with the restart in Fairbanks on March 3 at 10:00 a.m.

"I thank NARF in spirit for everything they have done for me both personally and professionally. They are doing an outstanding job for Indian Country and this is one way of showing my support for their mission" says Mike Williams. "It is my hope that foundations and individuals will step up to the plate and donate to NARF by my tribute."

Executive Director, John Echohawk says, "Mushing is Mike’s life. It is his tradition, culture and natural-born talent. He is a leader, mentor, historian, and advocate in the Alaska Native community. We at NARF are honored that Mike has included us in his platform. We will pray for Mike’s safety in the race while cheering him and his dog team to success on their trip to Nome."

Mike Williams is the Chair of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, the Vice-Chair of the Alaska State Board of Education, and is the Juneau area Vice-Chair for the National Congress of American Indians. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and Tae Kwon Do. Mike and his wife, Maggie have lived in Akiak for 25 years. They have five children - all living in Alaska.

Mandatory gear for the Iditarod includes an ax, snowshoes with bindings, booties for each dog in the sled team, a cooker and pot to boil at least (3) gallons of water, and a veterinarian notebook.

For more information on Mike Williams, call 907-765-7426 or email mwilliams@aitc.org. To learn more about the Iditarod, visit the official website at www.iditarod.com. You can read more about Mike on Cabela’s Iditarod at www.cabelasiditarod.com/2003/prerace_article-0308.html. Visit the Native American Rights Fund’s website at www.narf.org.