Reverend David Salmon, Athabascan nonagenarian

The first link to the audio story is quite good. Father Salmon and Peter John (another nonagenarian) were extraordinarily accomplished.
Rev. David Salmon

Flags are at half-staff across Alaska today, following the death of an Athabascan elder and leader. The Reverend David Salmon died yesterday. He was the first traditional chief for the Tanana Chief’s region, and the first Athabascan ordained to the Episcopal ministry.
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

  • The 95-year-old cherished Gwich’in elder has been first traditional chief since August 2003, following the passing of Chief Peter John of Minto. The position is … held in high esteem.

  • Last Modified: October 12, 2007 at 02:43 PM
    Athabascan traditional chief Salmon dies at 95

    FAIRBANKS — The first traditional chief for the Athabascan people of the Interior died Thursday at his home in Chalkyitsik. The Rev. David Salmon was 95. “He was sitting in his favorite chair when he passed,” Salmon’s granddaughter, Patricia Salmon”

    Father Salmon’s biography is here, from the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments,

  • and another one is here, Tanana Chiefs Conference–

  • Chief Salmon, who was first made Chief of Chalkyitsik at the age of 29, helped shape the community and was instrumental in building a school and starting a store. He introduced the first Christmas tree and potlatch, and built the church by hauling 90 logs at the age of 70, using only a chainsaw.
  • Chief David Salmon – “My father saved my life”
  • He received an honorary degree from the University of Alaska.

    “Athabascan elder Rev. David Salmon, traditional chief of Chalkyitsik and second chief of Interior Alaska villages with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, just celebrated his 90th birthday, was the first Gwich’in to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church where he served for more than 42 years.

    Salmon has had a life-long interest in education and sharing his cultural knowledge with others through programs such as UAF’s Elder in Residence program and the Academy of Elders, an intense immersion program for certified teachers intent on developing K-12 curriculum and teacher training programs. Salmon has collaborated extensively with UAF’s anthropology department and has been a Geist lecturer at the University of Alaska Museum for the past five summers. Salmon is considered a master toolmaker and his tools, fish traps and canoes are on display at the museum and in other university buildings. Salmon is a founding member of Denakkanaaga nonprofit elders’ organization. In January, the David Salmon Tribal Hall was opened in Fairbanks and dedicated by TCC in recognition of a lifetime of service. Salmon will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws.”

    Chief David Salmon 2006
    Chief David Salmon Traditional Athabascan Tool Collection, a new art acquisition purchased jointly by Doyon, Limited and the Doyon Foundation.

    “I knew that if I didn’t make the tools, that they would just stay back there to be forgotten… How can the young people learn without seeing the tool? The Athabascan way is to teach by showing you; then when you see, you will learn. That is why when I speak about a tool, it must be in my hand. That is how it always was; that is how it should be.” — Chief David Salmon

    … in the summer of 1994, Chief David Salmon began to craft a collection of tools, illustrating the pre- and early post-contact technology of theAthabascans of Alaska’s Interior. Most of these tools were used in the Athabascans’ subsistence lifestyle into the 1920s.

    Both Chief Salmon and Chief Peter John spoke widely about their religious faith.
    “The history of this country is not known,” Salmon explains his reasons for doing that book, plus another on the oral history of his people. “Young people do not know it. Old people die with it. Well, I don’t want to die with it. I want the young people to have it.”O’Brien, Thomas A. 1997. Athabaskan implements from the skin house days as related by Reverend David Salmon. Thesis (M.A.)–University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1997. OCLC: 42066842

    The Gospel according to Peter John
    # Publisher: Alaska Native Knowledge Network (1996)
    # Language: English
    # ASIN: B000BSFGQY

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    3 Responses to “Reverend David Salmon, Athabascan nonagenarian”

    1. 2 Jayme Thomas 2007 October 18 at 1:27 pm

      David Salmon was a man that use arond people all the time. He love to have people to come in and talk with him. He would tell children storys about when he was little. Well that is all I have to say about him.

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