John Borbridge Jr., the first full-time president of Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, died on Monday in Juneau. He was 89.
Central Council released an in memoriam posting for Borbridge on Wednesday, hailing him for his involvement with the tribe during the start of its Six Point Plan in the ‘60s to protect federal funding and his efforts to settle the Alaska Native Land Claims.
Borbridge, whose Tlingit name was Duk saa.aat’, was born and raised in Juneau. He was Raven L’Uknax.ádi (Coho clan) from the Frog House and Wooshkeetaan yadi, according to Central Council’s release.
He graduated from Juneau High School, then attended the University of Michigan and the University of Washington before returning home to Alaska. He taught at Juneau-Douglas High School for six years.
Borbridge’s appointment to the Land Claims Task Force by then-Gov. Walter J. Hickel in the ‘60s led to the inclusion of Southeast Alaska in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, according to a web post in honor of Borbridge by Sealaska Heritage.
Borbridge was later elected as the first president and chairman of Sealaska Corporation’s Board of Directors, serving from 1972 to 1978.
Various Sealaska leaders compiled a list of contributions by Borbridge on the organization’s website.
“The passing of John Borbridge is like another era leaving us,” Sealaska Vice Chair Jackie Pata wrote. “I really got to know him during the 1991 Amendments and a part of the Sealaska Shareholder committee. His passion for Sealaska and our tribe never ceased. I was so honored when he asked me to co-teach with him a class on ANCSA, he had insights you could never read in a book. His cheerful smile and knowledge will be missed.”
Sealaska Director Rosita Worl also left a comment about Borbridge’s impact on the Native community, saying, “John was a powerful voice for not only Southeast Natives, but all Natives across Alaska.”
Borbridge was preceded in death by his son John Edward Borbridge and daughter Linda Christine Borbridge. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Emma Nicolet Borbridge, son Charles Borbridge and daughter Sandra Borbridge.
His family plans to release the details for his memorial service at a later date.