Alaska Native activist, Desa Jacobsson, passes away
Prominent Alaska Native activist Desa Jacobsson died Thursday in Anchorage, according to her daughter. She was 69-years-old and died of breast cancer.
Jacobsson was well known for speaking out and standing up, especially for the rights of Native women.
Journalist Nellie Moore, who interviewed Jacobsson many times over the years, described Jacobsson as a woman who was never afraid to speak her mind.
"She was very outspoken and forceful in her thoughts. She would not back down from her opinion, and I think people respected that a lot," said Moore. "She hit the topics that people were concerned about. She was a woman and there weren't very many Native women politicians who were outspoken like her on those issues."
Jacobsson ran for governor in 1998 on the Green Party ticket. She was briefly on the ticket again in 2002 with another Native activist, Diane Benson.
Benson, who remained close to Jacobsson, recalled the excitement of having two Native women running for the highest office in the state.
Jacobsson was often a familiar sight at marches. She was once arrested for fishing illegally in protest for Native subsistence rights. She also went on several public hunger strikes to make a point. But the subject Jacobsson felt most passionate about was sexual abuse and domestic violence, especially against Native women.
In an interview last year with KTVA, Jacobsson said the only way to stop abuse is to have the courage to speak out.
"What bothers me most is the silence," said Jacobsson. "We can't keep doing this, we have to keep speaking up until we can't anymore. If not this will continue."
The family says Jacobsson was adamant about not having a memorial service. Instead, a public reception is planned at the Evergreen Memorial Chapel at 737 E Street on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.