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He was the keynote speaker last fall at the Alaska Federation of Natives, the state's largest gathering of Native people. He espoused those themes to a standing-room only crowd, and then was besieged for autographs following the address.
"He has really given our students, our young people the encouragement needed," Greene said. "No matter what our dreams are, we can keep on trying and one day we'll accomplish those goals, just like he did."
She called him a good ambassador for the state and all Alaska Native people.
Baker has seen one change since he's become an Iditarod champion. Children treat him a little bit differently.
"They were quiet and listening for once," he said.
Musher Josh Cadzow, who grew up watching the Iditarod, said "Baker was always the musher to pull for when I was a kid."
The 23-year-old Athabascan from Fort Yukon is a rookie in this year's Iditarod and a three-time veteran and the 2010 Rookie of the Year in the Yukon Quest.
"Hopefully I'm the musher to pull for since he won already. He did his goal. Now it's my goal," Cadzow said.
Mushing isn't a sport in which people get rich. The total purse is $550,000 for the first 30 finishers, with the winner receiving $50,400 and a new truck.
Baker estimated it takes a minimum of $75,000 to train for this year's race.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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