Bobby Andrew, a Bristol Bay fisherman who became a spokesman for protection of the Bristol Bay watershed against potential adverse affects of large-scale mining, died while at Aleknagik, near Dillingham, on a fishing trip. He was 72.
Andrew, a lifelong subsistence hunter and fisherman, was a member of and spokesman for Nunamta Aulukestai, "Caretakers of Our Lands," an association of 10 Alaska Native village corporations in the Bristol Bay region.
Andrew was expected home on Monday, but did not arrive. On Tuesday, his family asked others to check on him. He was found dead Tuesday in his cabin, where he had gone to rest after fishing, said Kimberly Williams, executive director of Nunamta Aulukestai.
"Bobby was an inspiration to many for his early opposition to the development of the proposed Pebble mine," said Williams. Andrew traveled to London, Washington, D.C., Juneau, San Francisco, Williams Lake, British Columbia, and many places in Alaska to share his story of why Bristol Bay's water and natural resources deserve protection, she said.
"We owe Bobby a debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts, his dedication and his work. You could always find him side by side with Nunamta Aulukestai chairman Luki Akelkok. Bobby even changed his tribal enrollment to the Ekwok Tribe so that he could speak on their behalf in the opposition to Pebble."
Andrew also served on the Nushagak Mulchatna Watershed Council and the Nushagak-Mulchatna Wood-Tikchik Land Trust. For more than 30 years he was president of Aleknagik Natives Ltd.
Nearly a decade ago, when the opposition formed against the Pebble Limited Partnership plan to build an enormous copper, gold and molybdenum mine near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, Andrew was among those speaking out against the project.
"I find myself fighting for the future of our renewable fish and wildlife resources," Andrew said. "They are the central part of my culture.
"For generations Alaska Natives have hunted, fished, thrived and survived on the lands and water surrounding Bristol Bay. I look forward to passing on this way of life to my sons and grandchildren and the future generations. We need to let the rest of the world know so we can all work together to protect the environment, air, water and lands that produce subsistence resources on which we depend."
Andrew was born in Aleknagik. He attended Aleknagik Territorial School and Dillingham High School before receiving a degree in accounting from Dyke Specerian Business College, now known as Chancellor University, in Cleveland.
He is survived by his wife, Ingrid, his sons and their wives, Harold and Sarah, Ralph and Kari, and Ray and Lydia, and nine grandchildren.
Margaret Bauman is a reporter for The Cordova Times.