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Marks, Johnny (1943-2009) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives

Name: Marks, Johnny (1943-2009)

Historical Note:

Johnny Marks was born May 11, 1943, in Juneau, to Willie and Emma Marks. He was raised by Willie's brother Jim and Jenny Marks, who were childless. As an adult, he was formally adopted by them. His Tlingit names were K'óox and Kooteix'téek. He was born into the Raven moiety, Lukaax.ádi (Sockeye) clan, and Gheesán House. His mother's people are from the Alsek River Canoe Prow House at Dry Bay. His father's people are the Eagle moiety Chookaneidi of the Brown Bear House and Brown Bear Nest House of Hoonah. He was trained from his youth to know the great depths of Tlingit knowledge, history, language and culture.

He graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1962, and joined the U.S. Army shortly thereafter, serving in Germany in the early 1960s. He worked as a commercial fisherman on the North Pass and Evolution. He was a member of Juneau ANB Camp 2.

He grew up speaking Tlingit in the environment of traditional elders. He was widely recognized and respected by Native and non-Native people alike for his knowledge of the language, and for his remarkable recall of personal names and songs. He worked in the early 1970s with Len Sevdy in the Juneau School District Indian Studies Program. Although not as widely known for his artwork as his brothers, he was an outstanding creator of Tlingit designs.

He later worked with many linguists including Jeff Leer of UAF, Seth Cable of University of Massachusetts, and Keri Edwards of Juneau to research and document Tlingit language. He volunteered for many years as language and cultural resource at Sealaska Heritage Institute. One of his recent activities was translating Macbeth into Tlingit and working with local actors on the Tlingit language production staged in Juneau and in Washington, D.C.

Marks passed away on September 28, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska.


Juneau Empire obituary, October 8, 2009

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