Farewell to a Legend

Jacob Anaġi Adams, Sr.

In honor of our recently passed friend and valued member of the Iñupiat community, UIC presents a special video tribute to Dr. Jacob Anaġi Adams, Sr., a North Slope leader, Arctic Slope Native Corp. founder, whaling captain, and UIC’s 2019 Elder of the Year.


More about Anaġi:

Jacob was born in 1946 to parents Baxter and Rebecca Adams of Barrow and grew up with nine siblings. The family depended heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing, as most Barrow families do. Jacob started whaling at a young age, learning from his father and his uncle, Whitlam Adams. Jacob left Barrow to attend the Wrangell Institute boarding school in Wrangell, Alaska and graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. At that time, there were only elementary school grades in Barrow.

Jacob was a successful whaling captain with his Anaġi Crew for many years and in 2018 he announced his retirement from the Captainship and passed it on to his daughter Jackie and her husband Carl Nayakik.

Mr. Adams was an active participant in Utqiaġvik’s political and business arena. He served on the Barrow City Council from 1967 to 1972, and he fought for passage of the 1972 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which established regional corporations like the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and local corporations like UIC.

He was elected to the First Assembly when the North Slope Borough was incorporated in 1972 and was the first elected president of the Assembly in 1978. Jacob was appointed mayor of the North Slope Borough following the death of the Borough’s founding mayor, Eben Hopson, Sr. that same year. He also served as the Barrow, City Mayor from 1971 to 1977.

Mr. Adams was chairman of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission from 1977-1980 and was the Vice President of Arctic Slope Community Foundation Board of Directors of which he served as President and CEO from 1983 to 2006. Jacob also served on the Arctic Education Foundation Board starting in 2007. In 2018, Jacob was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

After serving as Vice President of ASRC Lands, Jacob became President and CEO of ASRC from 1983 through 2006, and as of recent, was a member of their Board of Directors. In 2011 Jacob was the Chief Administrative Officer of the North Slope Borough under Mayor Charlotte Brower until 2016.

The Arctic Education Foundation developed the Anaġi Leadership Award to acknowledge the leadership of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s former president, Jacob Anaġi Adams. This award covers tuition, fees, books, room and board, and shall be used for college or training expenses. The maximum amount for this award is up to $24,000 per school year (fall, spring, spring quarter, and summer terms) and is based on the college’s financial need sheet. The scholarship will be awarded for four (4) consecutive school years for full or part-time status or enrollment. The scholarship will be awarded beginning the fall term following the deadline. One scholarship is awarded each year. More information is available at their website: https://www.arcticed.com

Jacob was heavily involved in the eradication of illegal drugs on the North Slope and had actively supported the Native sobriety movement, helping create the Alaska Native Blue Ribbon Commission in the late 1980s. Mr. Adams was also a volunteer with Barrow Volunteer Search and Rescue.

Just last year, UIC recognized Mr. Adams as the UIC shareholder Elder of the Year and featured him in the 2018 annual report.

Our grief and sadness at this time are little compared to what his family must be feeling. Mr. Adams is survived by his wife, Lucille Hopson Adams, and her 6 children, 23 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. Our sympathies and prayers go out to the entire family and close friends.