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SAVOONGA-Native leader and former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Caleb Pungowiyi passed away yesterday, July 25th, from cancer at the age of 69. He chaired the ICC from 1992 until 1995.
Born in Savoonga, in 1941, he spent much of his life in this small community on Saint Lawrence Island. He spoke much of the conditions that he grew up in through the years, on how he grew up in a very subsistence lifestyle with no phones, water, electricity or TV . He always pointed out to people outside of Saint Lawrence that the island is not a home to land animals and so his people looked to the sea, and the walrus, whale, and other marine animals for food. It was from these beginnings that Caleb continued from to work for the native people that he so loved.
Through the years Caleb served in many, many positions, some were as president and CEO of the Robert Aqqaluk Newlin Sr. Memorial Trust of Kotzebue, as well as Bering Strait Regional Commission, the National Science Foundation, the Alaska Native Science Commission, the advisory Panel on Arctic Impacts from Soviet Nuclear Contamination, the Polar Research Board Committee on Bering Sea Ecosystems, as well as working as a special advisor to the Federal Marine Mammal Commission on Native Affairs.
A Memorial Service will be held in his honor on Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Anchorage at 10th Avenue and L Street at 3pm.