Charlie Johnson of Nome, an Iñupiat leader and key figure in Alaska's participation in policies affecting the circumpolar Arctic reportedly passed away on Thursday.
Johnson was executive director of the Nanuuq Commission, which represents Alaska villages on a range of matters concerning the polar bear, and which participates as a partner in a U.S./Russia bilateral treaty along with the Association of Marine Mammal Hunters of Chukotka.
Among Johnson's many contributions, he held the Circumpolar Arctic Research seat on the Alaska Native Science Commission, was former executive director for the Eskimo Walrus Commission, served as president of Bering Straits Native Corporation and president of Kawerak, Incorporated, was an advisor to the Marine Mammal Commission, former chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives, former chair of the Indigenous People’s Council for Marine Mammals, a member and former vice president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, and a former commissioner on the United States Arctic Research Commission. Johnson was also a leader in establishing and administering visa-free passage for indigenous Chukotkans and Alaskans traveling between Russian and Alaska.
On Friday, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, also considered one of the nation's foremost experts on the Arctic, offered his condolences to Johnson's family and friends.
“Charlie Johnson had many titles, but he’ll certainly be remembered for one mission in particular: helping Alaskans assume their role in Arctic leadership,” said Treadwell.
“No meeting with Charlie ever happened without a good laugh and a real sense of purpose,” Treadwell remembers. “Charlie accomplished a great deal for Alaska. He will be sorely missed by many.”