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New Language Award Honors Founding Sealaska Director Clarence Jackson Sr.

New Language Award Honors Founding Director Clarence Jackson, Sr.

Sealaska directors sign the Sealaska articles of incorporation in 1972 with Assistant Secretary of the Interior Harrison Loesch. Pictured L to R: Clarence Jackson, Jon Borbridge Jr., Marlene Johnson, Harrison Loesch, Dick Kito, Leonard Kato

The inaugural Clarence Jackson Sr. Language Awards were presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The award recognizes individuals for the tremendous impact on Lingít, Xaad Kíl and Sm’álgyax language revitalization. The first awards recognized Elder/birth speakers.

The new Sealaska language awards are named after Galtín Tá Gooch Clarence Jackson Sr. for his championing of language efforts and tireless advocacy of language revitalization. Jackson was a founding Sealaska board member, serving from 1972 until his passing in 2013.

Jackson was Tlingit, Ch’áak’ (Eagle), Tsaagweidí (Killerwhale clan), child of Kaach.ádi Clan. His Tlingit names were Galtín, Asx’áak, Daa naawú, and Tá Gooch. His grandmother gave him the name Galtín, a Tsaagweidí name. He spoke the Lingít fluently. Jackson was born and raised in Kake and attended high school at Sheldon Jackson in Sitka.

Sealaska lost a much-loved traditional leader on January 31, 2013, when director Clarence Jackson Sr. walked into the forest. His knowledge of humor, Tlingit protocol, his wisdom through storytelling and ability to speak Lingít fluently guided Sealaska for several decades. His legacy will live always for future generations.

Clarence Jackson address Celebration 2012. Image by Todd Antioquia

“Our forefathers had a dream of educating our people. One of our commitments is to make that dream a reality.” —Clarence Jackson, Sr.

Jackson and other founding directors including Jon Borbridge, Marlene Johnson and Leonard Kato signed the articles of incorporation for Sealaska in 1972, with Assistant Secretary of the Interior Harrison Loesch.

Until his passing in January 2013, he was the only director who served continuously since Sealaska’s incorporation. During his time with Sealaska he guided the 13-member board on Native protocols, delivered speeches in Lingít, and used storytelling as a means of communication. In his capacity as a traditional leader, his efforts touched the lives of many people across the region and beyond.

On February 1, 2013, Sealaska leadership honored Clarence Jackson Sr. posthumously and named him the first director emeritus for the Sealaska board of directors. He was a giant among Southeast Alaska Natives.

Inaugural Galtín Tá Gooch Clarence Jackson Language Award Recipients

Learn more about language honorees

  1. Kaakal.aat Florence Sheakley, Lingít
  2. Kaanak Ruth Demmert, Lingít
  3. Ilskyaalas Delores Churchill, Xaad Kíl
  4. Shu Gunya Donna May Roberts, Sm’álgyax
Clarence Jackson and the late Sealaska director Albert Kookesh.

Clarence Jackson tributes

  1. Clarence Jackson remembered at Sealaska board meeting (here)
  2. Clarence Jackson montage (memorial)
  3. Senator Lisa Murkowski reflects on the passing of Clarence Jackson (here)
  4. KTOO | Tlingit elder, Sealaska board member Clarence Jackson dies (here)
  5. Clarence Jackson tells a story about respect and Tlingit values (here)