Floyd Manuel KookeshApril 5, 1955 – November 14, 2013
Floyd Manuel Kookesh, Daak Na Keen, answered his calling peacefully in his sleep on November 14, 2013 with his family at his side in his home in Angoon. He was one of nine siblings born to the late Matthew and Ramona (Herrera) Kookesh on April 5, 1955 in Angoon, Alaska. Daak Na Keen was Teikweidi from the Eagle Brown Bear Clan of Angoon, Alaska.
Floyd met his lifetime partner Lena Woods of Tanana, Alaska in May of 1970 when she came to Angoon to babysit for her sister Sally and Albert Kookesh. Following the summer they met, both Floyd and Lena returned to their boarding schools to complete their high school education. Floyd graduated in 1973 from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska. He and Lena reunited in 1975 and moved to Washington State to pursue their college education. Floyd received his Associate Degree in Arts & Science from Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA.
After living six years in Washington State, Floyd and Lena returned to Angoon where they made their home and raised their three beautiful daughters: Melissa, Ramona and Kristi. He was very proud of the fact that he raised his children in the community in which he grew up. He and Lena lived a subsistence lifestyle and he was very proud his eldest daughter's wish was for him to teach his grandson the ways of a subsistence user.
Floyd believed in the preservation of Our Way of Life. He not only practiced the traditional way of life - he also lived it. He was a teacher to his daughters, nephews, dear friends, and favorite grandson, in showing them the way our grandfather's people lived off the land and waters. Floyd not only provided for his family, he also provided for many others in need of our customary and traditional foods. He was a firm believer in only taking what was needed and this was very important as a true steward of the land.
Floyd will always be remembered as a leader who had the courage and conviction to petition and challenge the Federal government to live up to their end of the bargain struck under ANILCA relating to property and subsistence rights of his community and our people. He stated, "Failure on our part in not assuring hunting and fishing knowledge is properly passed on to the next generation is not an option; it is our responsibility. This petition addresses water rights essential to maintaining our traditional values."
He recalled, "I grew up in a household where my father was the leader of his community until the time of his death. The influence my father and his father had on our family politically as we were growing up is evident in the fact my brothers and I continue to play strong roles in the corporate, legislative, and subsistence arenas. We do it out of the love for our father's people as their suffering is our suffering. I am reminded about our role as advocates for our people by one of my community members stating to me the other day, 'the Kookesh boys are out there fighting for our subsistence!' I take a lot of pride in the fact that public service for the betterment of all is a value my family holds as honorable and worthy of sacrifice. If I had to do it all over, I would do the same thing, but better. There is one thing I learned about public service, there are problems before you get there, there will be problems when you are there, and there will be problems after you are gone, so grab the bull by the horns and make the best of it."
At the time of his passing, Floyd was the Chairman of Board of Directors, Kootznoowoo, Inc. (2010-2013); member of the Southeast Regional Advisory Council (1999-2013); owner and operator of Kookesh Charters (1980-2013); and member of ANB Grand Camp Subsistence Committee.
His past service includes Tribal Administrator of Douglas Indian Association (2007-2009); Subsistence & Sustainable Development Coordinator of Tlingit Haida Central Council (2010); Mayor of Angoon, AK (1994-1996 and 1999-2002); Advisory School Board Member for Chatham School District (1994-2002); Chairman of the Angoon Indian Education Program (1978-2002); and Juneau Delegate of Tlingit Haida Central Council (2008-2010).
He is survived by his lifetime partner Lena Woods; daughters Melissa Kookesh, Ramona Kookesh, and Kristi Kookesh; son Marti Fred; godson Jay Benjamin Johnson; grandson Tyler Frisby; granddaughters Shae Elizabeth Fred, Arianna Vent, and Talan Jack; brothers Albert (Sally) Kookesh, Matthew Kookesh, Edward Kookesh, and Gordon Kookesh; sisters Pauline (Al) Duncan, Nellie (Matsu Samato) Kookesh, Martha Shuweeka, and Stella (Rocky) Estrada; uncle Flavio (Connie) Herrera; aunts Irene Cadiente, Elizabeth (Peter) McClusky, Sophie McKinley, and Katie Hanlon; cousins Ella Bennett, Sophie Frank, Irene Paul, Pauline James, Roseanne Hotch, Edward Gamble, and Arthur (Mac) Demmert; mother-in-law Judith Woods, favorite sister-in-law Dorothy Shockley, and the entire Woods family of Manley Hot Springs, Alaska; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and many others that he loved and cherished as his own.
He is preceded in death by his parents Matthew and Ramona (Herrera) Kookesh, and his good friend Kenneth Tyler, his grandson's namesake.