A former Alaska poet laureate has died.

The Juneau Empire reports 72-year-old Richard Dauenhauer, an expert on Tlingit lore and language, died Tuesday of cancer.

Dauenhauer is survived by his wife, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, with whom he collaborated on many of his projects as a translator, scholar and historian.

Dauenhauer was born in 1942 in Syracuse, New York, and moved to Alaska in the late 1960s. He earned degrees in Russian, Slavic and German languages.

Sealaska Heritage Institute executive director Rosita Worl says by email that Dauenhauer's contributions to Tlingit culture are immeasurable and future generations will benefit from the decades of dedicated scholarly work he pursued with his wife.

She says they documented and translated words and wisdom of Tlingit ancestors that otherwise might have passed into oblivion.