Arctic Slope Native Assoc. chair dies

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Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2005

BARROW (AP) — Joseph Upicksoun, chair of the Arctic Slope Native Association, has died, the association said Tuesday. He was 73.

Upicksoun had been ill with cancer for several years. He died Monday at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

''Joe had great knowledge of Alaska Native history, Alaska Native land claims and especially the obligations of the federal government to the Alaska Native people,'' said Eben Hopson Jr., president and CEO of the association, in a statement.

''During the 1960s, Joe was an outspoken leader of the Arctic Slope Native Association during the Alaska Native lands claim debate, always with the Alaska Native people's interest at heart.''

The association opposed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, a 1971 law that compensated Alaska Natives for the loss of lands they historically used and occupied by providing for the establishment of Native corporations and paying them $962.5 million and 44 million acres of land.

Upicksoun co-signed a letter to President Richard Nixon, asking him to veto the legislation on behalf of the Inupiat Eskimos of the Arctic Slope who claimed aboriginal title to 56.5 million acres north of the Brooks Range.

In 1972, Upicksoun became one of the founding members of the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. He was elected president and chairman in the corporation's first election a year later and served through 1977.

Upicksoun also served as special assistant to former North Slope Borough Mayor Jeslie Kaleak from 1990-93.

A memorial service is planned in Barrow, and a funeral and burial will be in Point Lay, where he was born.

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