Alaska Native leader Bob Loescher dies at 68

Former Sealaska CEO and longtime Native-rights activist Robert “Bob” Loescher has died at the age of 68. Loescher worked for the Southeast Alaska regional Native corporation for about 25 years. He became CEO in 1997, a job he held until 2001.

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Former Sealaska CEO Bob Loescher in May 2014. (File photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
Former Sealaska CEO Bob Loescher in May 2014. (File photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

He served on the Juneau Assembly in the early 1970s.

He also held leadership roles in the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Council President Richard Peterson says Loescher ran the organization’s housing and electrical authorities.

“He put himself forward and worked for our people and we owe a great debt of gratitude for anybody who’s doing that and Bob did it in a very impactful way.”

Loescher recently served as a tribal judge. He was recognized as the central council’s tribal citizen of the year in 2012.

He was often described as a strong spokesman for Native subsistence rights.

In a 2009 speech, Loescher called for the state to stop citing indigenous people harvesting traditional foods. He pointed to what he called unreasonable limits on subsistence-caught salmon.

“What we have is a disproportionate allocation between the commercial fisheries and the traditional and customary hunting-fishing-gathering access to our resources, which we’ve used for thousands of years. That is not right.”

The Tlingit leader spent many years working with the Alaska Native Brotherhood, including heading up its Subsistence Defense Fund and Traditional Foods Security Council.

But other ANB officials alleged he illegally took about $21,000 from the groups. That led to a 2013 indictment on two charges of felony theft.

He challenged those charges, which were dropped last year. Tlingit and Haida’s Peterson says he saw Loescher’s passion as a child growing up in the Prince of Wales Island village of Kasaan.

“One thing I got to know about Bob is when he was involved, he was really involved and he put a lot of effort into those initiatives, whether it was subsistence or others.”

Loescher also worked as a consultant and lobbyist. There’s no word yet about services.

For the web: A Tlingit-Haida Central Council biography says Loescher is of the Eagle Moiety, Chookeneidi Clan, who are the people of Glacier Bay and Hoonah. His Tlingit name is Kahtushtu’.

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Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau
Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.