Jacob Anagi Adams, Sr., photo courtesy ASRC.

Jacob Adams, a lifelong leader who helped shape some of northern Alaska’s most important organizations, died in September 2020 at the age of 73. 

Born in Utqiagvik (Barrow) in 1946, Adams was raised in Inupiaq traditions and became a lifelong practitioner and advocate for his culture. A successful whaling captain, Adams helped found the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission following a ban on the bowhead whale hunt. The AEWC continues to be instrumental in preserving the bowhead whale hunt, a cultural cornerstone and important source of food. 

At 21, Adams was elected to the Barrow City Council. He later served as the city’s mayor and then mayor for the North Slope Borough, which covers 95,000 square miles across northern Alaska. 

Adams also had a big hand in shaping the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, an entity that represents the business interests of about 13,000 Inupiaq shareholders. Adams was ASRC’s president and CEO from 1983 until 2006 and served on the board of directors until his passing. Today, ASRC is the largest Alaskan-owned and operated company.

“It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Jake’s leadership through the years across our region and even beyond,” Rex A. Rock Sr., current ASRC president and CEO, said in a statement.


Alexander Deedy formerly worked as the assistant editor and digital content manager for Alaska magazine.

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