Charles “Etok” Edwardsen Jr., “a brilliant but controversial Eskimo activist” according to Alaska Dispatch News, walked on May 8 while on a whaling trip outside of Barrow, Alaska.
Edwardsen was influential during the Alaska Native land claims movement, and became a prominent activist during the 1960s.
“Etok was a fierce warrior for Iñupiat rights and a defender of our cultural freedoms, and for this we are eternally grateful,” Crawford Patkotak, chairman of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the Alaska Native regional corporation for the North Slope, told the Alaska Dispatch News.
“He never gave up fighting; he never gave up working for solutions to what Alaska Natives faced,” Victoria Hykes Steere, a professor at Alaska Pacific University, told the Dispatch. She said Edwardsen was a mentor to her while she attended law school in the 1990s.
“He was a major influence not only in my life but for a generation of young Alaska Native leaders,” Evon Peter, a vice chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told the Dispatch.
The Dispatch said his family was comforted by the fact that he died while whaling, an annual trip.
“We’re all sad, but we’re all happy because he was where he’d want to be,” Una Edwardsen, one of his six children, told the Dispatch.
Read more about Edwardsen’s life, by visiting ADN.com.