David Salmon (tribal chief)

David Salmon
Born 1912
Salmon Village, Alaska
Died October 11, 2007
Chalkyitsik, Alaska
Occupation Episcopalian priest

Reverend Chief David Salmon (1912 – October 11, 2007) was an Alaska native and Episcopalian priest. He was also a Gwich'in elder who was known for his traditional toolmaking skills and work ethic.[1]

Salmon was born in Salmon Village and raised in Chalkyitsik.[2] He was first chosen as Chief of Chalkyitsik at the age of 29 and helped shape his hometown and community.[2]

Salmon was elevated to First Traditional Chief for the Athabascan people of the Interior in2003.[1][dead link] following the death of the previous chief, Chief Peter John of Old Minto.[3][dead link] The position of First Traditional Chief was nonpolitical and honorary.[1] The title was held in very high esteem by the Athabascan and other indigenous Alaskan peoples.[1] He was also the grandfather of former Alaska state representative Woodie Salmon.[2]

He died at the age of 95 from cancer at his home in Chalkyitsik on October 11, 2007.[4][dead link] He had been diagnosed earlier in the summer of 2007.[1] Salmon died just 10 days before the opening of the 2007 Alaska Federation of Natives convention, which he was scheduled to address as a guest speaker.[1]

Alaska governor Sarah Palin ordered that all Alaskan flags be lowered to half-staff in honor of Salmon.[2][dead link] Palin stated that "Alaska has lost a true treasure."[2]

Salmon's family received around 200 phone calls expressing sympathy from throughout Alaska and the rest of the United States following his death.[1] He was buried near his home in Chalkyitsik on October 15, 2007, next to his wife, Sarah, in a hilltop cemetery under spruce trees.[1]


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