Ethel Aanwoogeex’ Lund, an Alaska Native leader and healthcare pioneer, died Friday morning. She was 91. (Courtesy / Healing Hand Foundation)

Ethel Aanwoogeex’ Lund, an Alaska Native leader and healthcare pioneer, died Friday morning. She was 91. (Courtesy / Healing Hand Foundation)

Tribal health care trailblazer Ethel Aanwoogeex’ Lund dies at 91

She was “a champion for health care.”

Ethel Aanwoogeex’ Lund, an Alaska Native leader and health care pioneer, died Friday morning. She was 91.

Lund was known throughout Southeast Alaska and across the state for her work which spearheaded bettering health care for Alaska Native people during a period when it was difficult to obtain.

Originally from Wrangell, she found her passion for Alaska Native and health care issues, and throughout the 1970s Lund was one of the founders and later the president of SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, now known as one of the largest Native-run health care organizations in the country.

She also served as a member of the Sealaska board of directors, executive vice president of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska, chair of the Alaska Native Health Board, vice chair of the National Indian Health Board and vice president of the Healing Hand Foundation along with numerous other achievements and service.

Lund’s work has been applauded across Juneau — and the state — throughout her decades of public service.

In 1984 Lund became the first Alaska Native woman to be named Woman of the Year by the Juneau Chapter of the Business and Professional Women, and In 2008 SEARHC renamed its Juneau clinic in her honor. In 2010, she was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

In 2011, she received the Shirley Demientieff Award at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, an honor awarded by the governor for advocacy on behalf of Alaskan Native women and children.

“We will always remember Ethel Lund and the many ways she has shaped who we are as an organization at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Ethel dedicated her life to advocating for the health needs of Alaska Native people and was essential to the evolution of Alaska’s healthcare system in Southeast Alaska. She was an integral part of our communities, and her contributions are immense and immeasurable,” said Kimberley Strong, chair of the SEARHC Board of Directors. “We will miss her tremendously, but we will aspire to achieve her vision to provide the best healthcare for our communities.”

Jackie Pata, first vice president of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, said she mourns the loss of Lund after she heard the news of her passing Friday afternoon and in response Pata led a speech in honor of Lund at the Southeast Alaska Native Veterans Veterans Day Ceremony and Luncheon.

“Ethel was a champion for health care,” she said. “She made many sacrifices to do that, but she never let that dream die.”

Pata described Lund as a mentor and advocate for her and other women in Southeast Alaska and said Lund was a devoted member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, an Indigenous civil rights and land rights organization.

“She had a culturally traditional heart and I don’t think any one of us can say we weren’t touched by what she provided for us,” Pata said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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