Condolences pour in after passing of former North Slope mayor and whaling captain

Harry Brower Jr. on left. Edward Itta on right. Photo by Elsie Itta courtesy of North Slope Borough.
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) Condolences are pouring in to the family of former North Slope Mayor and whaling captain Edward Saggan Itta, 71, who passed away on Sunday after battling cancer.

"Edward Itta's charismatic and visionary leadership will be sorely missed. He was a great leader not only on the North Slope, but also throughout Alaska and the world. He brought recognition and a voice to the Inupiat people on a global level, and helped lead an international discussion on Arctic development,” said Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott in a prepared statement.

“While Edward will be greatly missed by many, his achievements and contributions to Arctic Policy and the state of Alaska will long be remembered. Our hearts goes out to his wife Elsie, their children, and grandchildren for their loss. Alaskans mourn the passing of Mayor Itta, and thank him for the many outstanding contributions he made to our state," they said.

The North Slope Borough’s current mayor described Itta as a friend, co-worker, former boss and fellow whaling captain whose wisdom “transcended boundaries.”

“Edward spent his political life using the power of his inner goodness and wisdom to lift others up and protect and fight for the people of the Arctic. He was a trusted ear and revered voice for countless people, but his family always came first,” said Mayor Harry K. Brower Jr.

“His leadership, wisdom and service brought enormous success and pride to the people of the North Slope,” Brower said. “The entire North Slope joins them in mourning the loss of one of the finest public servants and influential leaders our region has ever known.”

Itta was captain of the Saggan whaling crew, president of Barrow Whaling Captains and vice chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, according to a news release from the Inuit Circumpolar Council. He served as North Slope Borough Mayor from 2005 to 2011.

He was president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska from 2006-2010. President Barack Obama appointed Itta to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in 2012. He represented Alaska on the Outer Continental Shelf Policy Commission.

Itta is survived by his wife Elsie, daughter Muriel, son Price and many other family and friends.