Panigkaq is Agatha John Shields' Yup'ik name. Panigkaq grew up in the small Yup'ik community of Toksook Bay, Alaska. She is the 8th out of 10 children of Anguyaluk Martina and late Dr. Chief Kangrilnuguq Paul John. Her paternal grandmother, known as Al'a, also lived with them. Both of her maternal grandparents lived in the same community whom she also learned from. Her growing up was filled with learning, all in the Yugtun language and culture. Her early educators were the many grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, family friends, cousins etc. The community worked together to raise the youth.
Panigkaq's father Dr. Chief Kangrilnuguq Paul John was a revered elder and the tribal chief of her region. He advocated for Indigenous people to keep their Yugtun language, nerangnaqsaraq (subsistence ways), and Yuuyaraq (way of life) to keep balanced in the dominant world. He also would remind his children to complete schooling to become able to help serve their people. His belief was receiving a training, certificate, or degree would give one tools to help Indigenous people.
Panigkaq earned her teaching degree. She shares her own journey of feeling a need to assimilate initially, and also of her own becoming aware and the value of incorporating her Indigenous knowledge. She later earned her masters degree in Educational Leadership and served as the Principal of Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, a Yup'ik Immersion school in Bethel, Alaska. More recently Panigkaq earned her Ph.D in Applied Linguistics and teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Panigkaq is an advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge in our Western education. She has supported many new and current educators in their own increased capacity to understand the intersection between culture and knowing and how this can be embraced in school.
Yuuyaraq (Way of Life):
Panigkaq Agatha John Shields started with her life-time education on Indigenous ways of being and knowing from the Nanakauyaq (Toksook Bay) elders and surrounding Qaluyaat (Nelson Island) elders and mentors. This education alas expands now to educators around the world about Indigenous Knowledge who share to pass down the wisdom as expected from elders, ancestors, and wisdom keepers.
Bachelors of Education in Secondary Education, 1993 fUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks
Masters of Educational Leadership, 2003 University of Alaska Anchorage
Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics: Interdisciplinary, 2018 fUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks. Dissertation title: Tangerqengiaraucaraq (Being Present)
Panigkaq Agatha John Shields is currently teaching at the University of Alaska Anchorage.