James Wilbur Walton


Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2003

Tlingit elder James Wilbur Walton (Khaalaaxh), 80, died Nov. 18, 2003, in Juneau of natural causes.

He was born March 29, 1923, in Sitka, to Rudolph Walton (Kaawootk', Aakw'taatseen), Kiks.di clan, and Mary Charley (Davis), Kaagwaantaan clan. He was a leader of the Kaagwaantaan Wolf House, Eagle/Wolf Moiety, of Sitka.

As a child, Walton received traditional Tlingit training and became an expert in oratory and protocol. He graduated from Sheldon Jackson School in Sitka in 1943, and married Clara Hamilton of Craig. As a young man he worked as a fisherman and carpenter, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He also attended Alaska Methodist University, where he studied business. He devoted his life to the Baha'i Faith, education, and Tlingit culture.

In 1953, he became a member of the Baha'i Faith. A highlight of his life was visiting, along with his sister Rachel Walton Kasakan, the Baha'i World Center in Haifa, Israel. As a Baha'i teacher, he traveled throughout North America, Europe, and the Russian Far East, working primarily with indigenous people.

In the early 1980s, he established the International Cross-Cultural Alcohol Program, to create a cross-cultural approach to alcohol recovery. He spearheaded more than 25 Spiritual Unity of Tribes Gatherings, which were held from New Zealand to the Sakha Republic, Russia. At the age of 72, he went alone, and not speaking the Russian language, to Yakutsk, Sakha Republic, Russia, to help establish alcohol-recovery programs. As a result of his work, the republic held several Healthy Lifestyle Summits; the Tundra Women's Center in Cherski, Sakha Republic, was founded (the first domestic-violence center in the Republic); and hundreds of cultural and health care exchanges occurred between indigenous people of the Sakha Republic and Alaska.

Education was an important part of his life, his family said. Among his lifelong dreams was to help establish a Native tribal college in Alaska. He actively promoted education among Native people, and inspired thousands of people, young and old, to choose a spiritual, alcohol-free path, for over 40 years of his own sobriety, his family said. He helped broaden understanding of the Tlingit culture, and served as an adviser to the Alaska State Museum.

He is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Joyce and Clinton Shales, of Juneau, Mary Anne and Jack Navitsky of Sitka, and Janice Criswell and Steve Henrikson of Juneau; former wife Cathy Walton of Haines Junction, Canada; and sons Rudolph, William, and James Walton; nieces Daisy Jones, Joan Lawrence Morrisey, Lauretta King, Roberta Charles, Linda Qualls, Merle Enloe Stewart, Cheryle Enloe, and Nena Walton; nephews William and Harold Lawrence, Charlie Daniels Jr., and Harold "Sonny" Enloe; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25, at Centennial Hall.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, send contributions to The Glory Hole, 247 S. Franklin, Juneau AK 99801, or Juneau Recovery Hospital, 3250 Hospital Drive, Juneau AK 99801.

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