Galena elder Sidney Huntington dies at 100

Galena elder Sidney C. Huntington passed away on Tuesday in Galena.  He was 100.

The son of a Koyukon woman and a white gold miner, Huntington became an expert trapper, fisherman, boat builder and carpenter in the middle Yukon and Koyukuk valleys of the Interior.  He went on to serve 17 years on the Board of Game during the 1970s and ’80s, and ran a successful fish processing business out of Galena for many years.

Sidney Huntington on the trapline, 1958. Photo: Alaska State Library, Keller Family Photo Collection.
Sidney Huntington on the trapline, 1958. Photo: Alaska State Library, Keller Family Photo Collection.
Shadows on the Koyukuk
Shadows on the Koyukuk

In his later years, Huntington became a strong advocate for public education in rural Alaska – helping to found an independent school district for Galena in the early 1970s.

His daughter Agnes Sweetsir says that his promotion of education for the Bush should be his lasting legacy.

“On his death bed this past couple weeks, he said that he did the best he could with a third-grade education,” she said. “He wanted people to know that, that was important to him.”

His life is immortalized in the popular autobiography “Shadows on the Koyukuk.”

Huntington was also well known for ardently promoting a serious work ethic among rural residents, and denouncing government assistance programs.

Those beliefs rubbed off on many of Huntington’s family and friends, including daughter Betty Huntington.

“He taught us to work hard and I always talk about that,” she said. “People always laugh that I get to work 10 minutes early and leave late, and that was just the way he was.”

Sidney Huntington is survived by his wife of 72 years, Angela.  He raised roughly 30 biological and adopted children.

The funeral service will be Friday at 10 a.m. at the school in Galena that bears his name.