Alaska Native elder and leader dies at age 77

ANCHORAGE — John Schaeffer Jr., an Inupiat Eskimo elder and tribal leader in northwest Alaska, has died. He was 77.

Schaeffer was the first president and CEO of the NANA Regional Corp.

NANA Chief Operating Officer Lori Henry says Schaeffer died Aug. 25 in Kotzebue, his hometown. He will be buried in Kotzebue on Wednesday following a memorial service at the high school gym.

A cause of death was not disclosed.

Schaeffer joined the Alaska Army National Guard’s Eskimo Scout battalion in 1957, serving as the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard starting in the mid-1980s until 1991. Guard officials say he was among the leaders in the state’s response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Earlier this month, Schaeffer attended a dedication of a Guard hangar named after him in Kotzebue.

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