A link between the past and the present was lost yesterday when Clarence Jackson, the last continuously serving founder of Sealaska, and later the Sealaska Heritage Institute, died at 78.
Jackson was one of the people who signed the articles of incorporation for Sealaska in 1972, and later founded the nonprofit Sealaska Heritage Institute. On Sealaska’s board of directors, he was the Native corporation’s longest continuously serving founding member.
“He travelled throughout our communities comforting those who had lost loves ones,” said Sealaska board chair Albert Kookesh. “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 work that will touch generations to come. Cherished memories of him and his spirit will remain with us always.”
“He represented us with our business associates, and conveyed that we were not just a business corporation, but arose from Native Peoples and Native land as a Native institution,” said Chris E McNeil Jr., Sealaska president & CEO.
On the Senate floor Friday morning, Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, called Jackson "a warm and wise human being" and said he had "touched a lot of lives here in Southeast."
"I just wanted to take a minute this morning and remember a great Alaskan," French said.
Jackson served on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Board of Trustees since it was founded in 1980 and as Chair of its Council of Traditional Scholars, a panel of Elders and clan leaders who guide SHI on programs. He was invaluable and irreplaceable, as he generously shared his vast knowledge of the Tlingit language, history and culture, said SHI President Rosita Worl.
He was Tlingit of the Ch’áak’ (Eagle) moiety, Tsaagweidí (Killerwhale) clan of Kake, Alaska. His Tlingit names were Galtín, Asx’áak, Daa naawú, and Tá Gooch. Clarence Jackson’s grandmother gave him the name Galtín, a Tsaagweidí name. When he was 3 years old he was given the name Asx’áak (Between Trees), a Kaagwaantaan name. Then his Dakl’aweidí relatives gave him the name Daa naawú, a Tsaagweidí name. Later, Peter and Frank Jack gave him their uncle’s name, Tá Gooch (Sleeping Wolf), a Teikweidí name.