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Mark Jacobs Jr.

Tlingit and civic leader dies at 81



January 18, 2005

Alaska Native and Tlingit leader Mark Jacobs Jr., 81, died Jan. 13, 2005, at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, with his wife and son at his side. An Alaska Native Brotherhood Service and a Tlingit memorial service will begin at 6 p.m. today at the Sheet'kakhwaan Naakahidee in Sitka. A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Centennial Building with the Rev. Bill Welch and the Rev. Paul Chulik Jr. officiating. Burial will be after the funeral in Sitka National Cemetery. After the burial, a reception will be held at the Centennial Building.

Mr. Jacobs was born Nov. 28, 1923, in Sitka to Mark and Annie (Paul) Jacobs. He was a member of the Dakl'aweidi (Killer Whale clan). His Tlingit names were Saa.aat', Keet w', Oode'ishk'aduneek and Gusteiheen. Most recently, he was given the name Woochkkaduhaa; he was the naashaadeiha'ni (clan leader) of the Killer Whale clan. A noted historian, he was the last male speaker of his lineage and house-group. He enjoyed speaking Tlingit with others and telling stories.

He attended a segregated school system for Natives in Sitka Village and spent his younger years at the family camp at Wat'ateen in Hoonah Sound and at Chatham Cannery. He attended Sheldon Jackson High School, but his studies were interrupted by military service in World War II. He returned to Sheldon Jackson High School and graduated in 1947.

During four years of military service, nearly all of which were sea duty and in war zones, he served on the USS New Mexico in the Aleutians and on the USS Newberry, the last two years served in the Amphibious Forces in the South Pacific. He and his brother, Harvey, never attended basic training and were immediately put to work on "picket boats" in the Icy Straits area. Using "code," he and his brother were part of a group of lesser-known code talkers, communicating only in the Tlingit language. After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy, he became active in the local Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp and held various offices, including President of Sitka Camp 1, working actively on the land claims. When he served as an ANB delegate in many annual conventions and as a Tlingit and Haida delegate from Sitka, his strong voice needed no microphone, nor did he need notes. He was active in the Alaska Federation of Natives conventions as well as the National Con gress of American Indians.

He completed more than 34 years of service on the Executive Council of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. The council voted unanimously to appoint Mr. Jacobs the very first Executive Council member emeritus in recognition of his many years of dedicated service. He also served on the interim board of directors of Sealaska and two additional three-year terms on the Sealaska board of directors. He was also on the interim board of directors of Sitka's Native urban corporation, Shee Atika Inc. He served on the Boats and Harbors Commission and the Historic Preservation Society, and was a charter member of the Civil Air Patrol in Sitka and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He was a steadfast supporter and member of the Sitka Assembly of God Church.

Aside from his many years as a fisherman with his father Mark Jacobs Sr. on the F/V Rondout, he was a union member (Local 942), retiring in 1985. He served as area steward for many years and was involved in construction and blasting of many of the roads around Sitka, at Blue Lake and Green Lake dams and the Sitka airport. He did the blasting that leveled the islands for the airport extension and many other projects around town and Southeast. A licensed and experienced driller and powder man, he was asked once what qualified him to be on the board of a corporation. He said, "I know the best how to handle explosive situations!"

All of his involvements in civic affairs cannot be fully listed. He was on the State Parks Advisory Board in Sitka. He served on the Southeast Alaska Native Subsistence Commission as vice chairman and the local Sitka Fish and Game Advisory Committee, was the first member representing Tlingit and Haida on the Rural Alaska Resources Association, dealing with the first State of Alaska and sportsmen's fish and game challenges to rural preference law mandated by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Appointed by Gov. Wally Hickel, he served two years as director of rural development. For the City and Borough of Sitka, he served as chairman of the harbor commission and also chairman of the historical archaeology commission.

On the national level, Mr. Jacobs was appointed a member of the Native American Veteran Advisory Commission. Many of his proposals became law when the Veterans Omnibus Bill was enacted. His input helped Sen. Daniel Inouye's draft bill on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Adelaide (Bartness); sons, Harold Jacobs of Sitka and Tony Jacobs of Seattle; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; sister and her spouse, Bertha and Peter Karras of Sitka; brother, Wally Jacobs of Seattle; aunts, Matilda Gamble and Irene Paul; and clan mother, Margaret Abbott.

He was preceded in death by his sons, Richard Jacobs and Phillip Jacobs; daughter, Karen Mann; brothers, Harvey Jacobs Sr., Hamilton Jacobs, Ernie Jacobs and Franklin Jacobs; and sister, Rose Barnes.

Source: The Anchorage Daily News.  Daily News staff.  




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