Prominent, Long-time Barrow Resident Passes Away at 91

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A man instrumental in the development and formation of the North Slope Borough has died. Barrow resident Lloyd Tuquttaq Ahvakana passed away on September 10 at the age of 91. Mr. Ahvakana worked diligently with Eben Hopson and others in Barrow in the 1970s to put together a plan for a regional governmental structure. His son, Lawrence Ahvakana says the men wanted to have local control rather than relying on Juneau for help in developing roads, sewer and water systems and housing. Assisting other villages in their own local government formation was also part of what they worked to accomplish. Lawrence Ahvakana says his dad and the others realized that with a big oil find in Prudhoe Bay, they needed to work to be heard.

Lloyd Ahvakana was born in 1919 in Barrow and grew up in a large, traditional family. He was the second child of 11. He came from a long line of whalers and was a whaling captain himself. His son Lawrence recalls that after living in Anchorage for a number of years when he was young, the family moved back to Barrow when the elder Ahvakana retired from the National Guard. Lawrence was off at college then but he says he made it back to Barrow and was introduced to the Inupiaq life of subsistence hunting and whaling.

Ahvakana was a long time member of the Utkeagvik Presbyterian Church. In 1972 He convinced the national headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Washington to help fund the start up costs for the North Slope Borough’s formation. Ahvakana was the borough’s first director of Administration and Finance. His son Lawrence says he was a deacon in the church and was a kind, gentle man who was always positive in his teaching young people about their heritage and culture.

Ahvakana served in the U.S. Army and in the Alaska National Guard. At one time he was the highest ranking Inupiaq serviceman. His funeral and military honoring was today.

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