Alaska News

Sidney Huntington, Athabascan elder and author, dies at 100

Alaska Native leader Sidney Huntington died Tuesday at age 100, his son Gilbert Huntington said. Besides the confirmation of his father's death, Gilbert Huntington said he was at a loss for words. But for much of Sidney Huntington's life, he was in fact giving people something to talk about.

Huntington was known around the state for his years of service on the Board of Game covering hot-button issues like wolf management, as well as for his autobiography and an anti-suicide play that's based on his life.

Huntington was born in 1915 to white and Athabascan parents. His mother died when he was young. After her death, he spent some time at the Anvik Mission School. At 12 years old, he worked on his father's trapline. Four years later, he trapped, hunted and fished on his own, historian Bill Hunt wrote in 1993.

Much of Huntington's life was documented in the book "Shadows on the Koyukuk," written with Jim Rearden in 1993.

Huntington stepped down from the Board of Game in 1992 at age 77, after serving on the board under five governors. He had suffered a heart attack during a Board of Game meeting during the previous fall.

In 2008, a play intended to counter suicide took another look into Huntington's life. "The Winter Bear" is a story about life and survival in Interior Alaska, rooted in Huntington's life. The play has traveled to several villages around the state and in the spring arrived in Bethel.

Huntington celebrated his 100th birthday on May 10.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Jim Rearden's name.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.