ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Native leader and former state lawmaker John Sackett has died. He was 76.
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has ordered all flags to fly at half-staff on Monday in tribute.
“John Sackett was a valuable and effective advocate for Alaska Natives and our rural communities throughout his nearly 20-year tenure in the Legislature, as well as his extensive professional and community involvement. His legacy of service will forever be an integral piece of Alaska’s history,” Dunleavy said. “Rose and I offer our sympathies to the Sackett family as they honor his memory.”
His cause of death was not immediately released.
Sackett was born in 1944 in the remote village of Cutoff, 35 miles (56 kilometers) up the Huslia River in Interior Alaska, Anchorage Daily News reported. He began his political career in 1967 in the state House of Representatives, when he was in his 20s.
Sackett then spent 14 years in the state Senate, and four in the House representing Interior and Southwest Alaska, according to a profile by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He also served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Sam Kito, former president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, said on Friday that Sackett’s work in the Legislature was only part of his legacy. He also helped establish Doyon Ltd., the Alaska Native regional corporation, in the 1970s.
Sackett was the first president of Doyon and Kito served as executive vice president, he said. Sackett was also former president of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, providing services to dozens of tribes.
Kito also said Sackett was an influential leader in the fight for the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which established Alaska Natives claims to land in the state.
Doyon, Ltd. said on its Facebook page in 2019 that Sackett continued to attend meetings until late in life.