During his life, Calista Shareholder and Elder Carl T. Jack has seen the world around him change in dramatic ways but the 75-year-old didn’t sit back and watch. He was an instrumental part of shaping many of the social and health organizations and subsistence policies in place today. “Looking back, I will never regret what I did in my life. I am totally satisfied with the work that I did,” said Carl. Carl has a remarkable number of accomplishments including holding leadership positions with the Association of Village Council Presidents, Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), Rural Alaska Community Action Program and Federal Subsistence Board. He credits his family and traditional upbringing for his successes. Carl was born and raised in Kipnuk, and from an early age he was the main provider for his family. Like many hunters years ago, Carl and his family followed the resources. In March, the family would head to the coast and set up tents while Carl used his kayak and dog team to hunt marine mammals. In June, they would use bigger boats on the Kuskokwim River to harvest salmon. August meant the family would travel back to Kipnuk to fish for blackfish, and trap muskrat and mink. It was during a successful springtime seal hunting trip that Carl’s father told him he wanted him to pursue an education. “From there on I never looked back,” said Carl. Carl became the first person from Kipnuk to graduate high school and college. At the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) his areas of study included rural development, wildlife management, civil engineering and business. He graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. After graduation Carl worked several years as a civil engineer on projects in rural Alaska. He was then hired as the deputy director of the Health Affairs Division at AFN. During his time at AFN he helped sponsor a number of statewide health conferences and established area health corporations. Carl’s interest in keeping Alaska Natives healthy led him to champion a number of subsistence rights efforts. He was around for the 1961 “Duck In” in Barrow, worked to allow subsistence harvest of halibut and helped shape rural preference in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). However despite Alaska Natives having access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds, Carl says the protections are fragile. “Now the rules of harvesting may change but that’s what we will have to live with,” said Carl. “As long as we maintain the values our forefathers passed on to us, the art of hunting and fishing, we will keep on.” In addition to regulations changing, Carl says there is a shift in the value system of Alaska Natives. “It is changing by one’s own choice,” said Carl. “We see value in education. Good or bad, we are adopting individualism.” He added, “Very slowly we are adopting the value system of Western society and for the conveniences that’s good. There’s a physical improvement of people’s lifestyles; snow machines, good cars, air travel, all that is getting what people want.” However, Carl said there are certain values and traditions that cannot change. He believes it is important to keep Native languages and subsistence activities alive. He encourages Youth to look to their Elders and teachers to learn about culture and tradition.
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