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Harold Sparck

Well-known Bethel fisheries and subsistence activist Harold Sparck, 51, died April 27, 1995 in Anchorage. 

Sparck came to Bethel in 1968 as a teacher at the local public school.  He soon left in a dispute over policies that he felt discriminated against Yup'ik students. 

After marrying a young Yup'ik schoolteacher from Chevak named Lucy Jones, who challenged him to turn the system around, Sparck put down his roots and embarked upon a remarkable quarter-century of activism.  Sparck helped lobby for a federal subsistence preference for Yup'ik and other rural Alaskans.  He plotted strategy that helped push the Japanese driftnet fleets out of the North Pacific and usher in an era of record Alaska salmon harvests.  And he was one of the early proponents of a federal program that now endows western Alaska villages with shares of the billion-dollar North Pacific bottom- fish harvests.  In all his efforts, he sought to first safeguard subsistence values and then helped develop new sources of income for the Yup'ik people. 

He helped design a strategy that won the support of the trawl fleet and ushered in a new era of partnerships that has put village people to work on the Bering Sea factory ships.  The plan also funded small-boat fleets that villages use in coastal harvests. 

"He was recognized as the key person that had to be contacted whenever there was an issue that might impact the west coast (Alaska) people," said Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.  "Harold really believed in what he was doing, and put his heart and soul into it seven days a week." Said Harold Napoleon, a Yup'ik leader.  "I think he became a Yup'ik.  He out-Yup'iked the Yup'iks." 

Source: Anchorage Daily News




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