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