Sitka man wins award for cultural contributions

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Pacific Northwest nonprofit agency has honored a Sitka man for his efforts getting Alaska Native remains returned to the state and helping preserve Tlingit culture.

Robert Sam, a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, was named one of four finalists for the 2002 Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership. The award honors Native leaders in conservation and community development.

The awards are given by Ecotrust, a Portland, Ore.-based conservation group. The winner of the $25,000 Buffett Award was Kelly Brown of Waglisla, British Columbia.

Sam has been the Sitka tribe's Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation coordinator. He helped families and the Alaska Department of Transportation repatriate the remains of 133 individuals who died from tuberculosis at the Mt. Edgecumbe Indian Health Service hospital in Sitka during the 1940s and 1950s.

He also served on the Sitka Tribal Council and has been active in local conservation issues.

Sam will receive his award Wednesday in Portland.

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