From David Hulen in Anchorage --
Caleb Pungowiyi, a longtime Alaska Native leader from northwest Alaska, has died of cancer at the age of 69.
Originally from the St. Lawrence Island village of Savoonga, Pungowiyi was a former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the international organization that advocates for indigenous people of the North.
He held a number of leadership positions through the years with various Alaska Native organizations. According to this online biography, he was president and CEO of the the Robert Aqqaluk Newlin Sr. Memorial Trust of Kotzebue and served on a long list of organizations and panels, among them the Bering Straits Regional Commission, the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs Advisory Committee, the Alaska Native Science Commission, the Polar Research Board Committee on Bering Sea Ecosystems and the Advisory Panel on Arctic Impacts from Soviet Nuclear Contamination. He was the federal Marine Mammal Commission’s special adviser on Native affairs.
He also worked as an adviser to the environmental group Oceana.
We received this from NANA Regional Corp. this afternoon:
Caleb was the beloved husband of our Chief Operating Officer, Gladys Pungowiyi as well. Marie N. Greene, NANA president and CEO sent a message to staff relaying the death and stating the following: “Caleb was a humble man who worked quietly, but tirelessly, to make a positive difference in the lives of the Iñupiat. His leadership and friendship will be greatly missed in our region and in indigenous communities around the Arctic.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Anchorage at 10th Avenue and L Street.
In 2001, he gave a lecture on climate change in the Arctic at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. UAF's Oral history project archived the lecture, along with an interview and photos.
In April 2009, he spoke at a federal hearing on offshore leasing in Alaska: