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Albert Kookesh, former Alaska lawmaker and Sealaska director, dies at 72

According to a post on Sealaska’s website, Kookesh passed away surrounded by at his home in...
According to a post on Sealaska’s website, Kookesh passed away surrounded by at his home in Angoon on Friday.(KTUU)
Published: May. 28, 2021 at 1:08 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 2:28 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Former Alaska lawmaker and Sealaska Director Albert Kookesh has died. He was 72.

According to a post on Sealaska’s website, Kookesh died surrounded by family at his home in Angoon on Friday. Kookesh’s son also posted about his father’s passing on Facebook.

“Today my father has walked into the forest - for now watch over us dad,” he wrote.

Today my father has walked into the forest - for now watch over us dad and we love you all - we will have services in angoon with dates to be announced later💕

Posted by Albert Kookesh on Friday, May 28, 2021

“Today, we mourn the loss of a colleague, a friend, a champion of Alaska Native people,” said Sealaska Chair Joe Nelson in a statement on the organization’s website. “Although the void felt at Sealaska will be profound, we can all celebrate a life well-lived – a life of public service. Albert made a lasting impression. We will all miss him.”

Kookesh served as a state senator representing District C from 2005 to 2012. Before that, he served in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1997 to 2004.

Kookesh was also well known in the Alaska Native community. He served as Alaska Federation of Natives chair, a member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp executive committee and as a trustee of First Alaskans Institute, among other positions.

“We are devastated to say that our dear friend, the great Tlingit leader Albert Kookesh, has Walked Into The Forest,” wrote the Sealaska Heritage Institute in a Facebook post.

We are devastated to say that our dear friend, the great Tlingit leader Albert Kookesh, has Walked Into The Forest. He...

Posted by Sealaska Heritage Institute on Friday, May 28, 2021

“These are the legacies. These are the legacies that you have bequeathed to our children and to our future generations,” said Rosita Worl, president of the institute. “Gunalchéesh, Albert. Your name will always be remembered.”

Rep. Andi Story, who represents District 34 in the Alaska Legislature, also took to Facebook to post about Kookesh’s death.

It is with deep sadness and condolences to family, friends and the Angoon community on the passing of former Senator...

Posted by Representative Andi Story on Friday, May 28, 2021

“I will always cherish the kindness and encouragement he showed to me,” Story wrote.

Also remembering Kookesh on Friday was the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. In a statement, the corporation said he leaves a legacy of “fighting for the entire Alaska Native community,” including those in Southeast.

“He will be remembered for his lifetime of service to the people of Alaska,” the statement reads.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information and quotes.

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