Alaska Pacific University joins Alaskans in bidding farewell to Richard Dauenhauer, historian, linguist, writer and educator, who died last Tuesday in Juneau at the age of 72.
Dr. Dauenhauer moved to Alaska in 1969, where he joined the faculty of Alaska Methodist University (now APU) and met his wife, Alaska Poet Laureate, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, who was pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at AMU in Anthropology.
Dauenhauer’s was himself honored as Alaska Poet Laureate (1981–1985). In the 1980s and 90s he worked for Sealaska Heritage Institute, a regional Native non-profit organization founded to administer cultural and educational programs for the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples of Southeast Alaska. He was appointed as Distinguished Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska, Southeast, where he developed and taught in the University’s Alaska Native Languages and Culture Program. He championed the inclusion of Humanities curricula that included classics in Alaska Native oral literature along with the literatures of American, European and Asian cultures.
Richard and Nora Dauenhauer often worked and wrote together, sharing two American Book Awards from the Pre-Columbus Foundation for the second and the fourth volumes of their four volume series, Classics in Tlingit Oral Literature. The significance of their tireless efforts recording, translating and publishing the language and oral traditions of Tlingit culture to the preservation of the Tlingit language cannot be underestimated.
Richard Dauenhauer’s legacy will continue to impact Alaska as speakers and scholars of Tlingit language and culture continue and build upon his work. He provided the foundation that makes their work possible.