Tlingit elder and board member of the Sealaska Corporation since its inception, Clarence Jackson Sr., lost his battle with cancer on January 31. He was 78 years old.
He signed the Sealaska articles of incorporation in 1972 and is the only board member to serve continuously since the organization’s founding. He also served as a trustee for the Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) from the time it was created in 1980, reported KTOO News.
“He travelled throughout our communities comforting those who had lost loves ones,” said Sealaska board chair Albert Kookesh in a press release. “He was our ambassador, he was the ‘face’ of Sealaska. We are enriched for having known him, and we are comforted to have the tremendous benefit of his work that will touch generations to come. Cherished memories of him and his spirit will remain with us always.”
Jackson was Tlingit of the Ch’áak’ (Eagle) moiety, Tsaagweidí (Killer Whale) clan of Kake, Alaska, where he was born in 1934 and lived most of his life. His Tlingit names were Galtín, Asx’áak, Daa naawú, and Tá Gooch and his grandmother gave him the name Galtín, a Tsaagweidí name.
According to KTOO News, Jackson attended Sheldon Jackson High School in Sitka and was involved in the Alaska Native claims movement of the 1960s with the Tlingit and Haida Central Council. From 1972 to 1976 he served as Central Council president.
SHI President Rosita Worl told KTOO News that Jackson was a Tlingit cultural ambassador anywhere he went.
“He lived in the village and he said that it is our responsibility to make sure that our people can continue to live in their homeland,” Worl said. “So, even with all of our businesses and investments, even if they were doing well outside of Alaska, he was always reminding us that we had a responsibility to our people in the villages.”
Jackson owned a store in Kake, was also a commercial and subsistence fisherman and he loved to tell stories.
“Clarence was a Man of the People. He walked among our People. His footsteps are embedded across our land. He travelled across our waters and the salmon and halibut gave themselves to him because he willingly shared with many,” Worl said in the press release. “He laughed, joked and told stories. He was a wise man, who could in a few words gently remind you that you could do better.”
Services for Jackson are pending.
See Jackson speaking at Celebration 2012 here.