Thomas “Tommy” James Nigiruq Ellanna
Thomas “Tommy” James Nigiruq Ellanna was born on King Island, Alaska, on October 26, 1943, to Ursula Grace Utamana (Ugatnaaq) and Frank Stanislaus Iilana Angaangaq Ellanna.
Thomas grew up in a subsistence home and ate some of the most healthy and delicious traditional foods from our land and sea. He was taught to hunt by his father Frank and continued the tradition by teaching his sons and nephews.
Thomas graduated from Nome-Beltz High School and honorably served in the Alaska Army National Guard from September 1964 to August 1967.
Thomas was married to Linda Justine Zorn. Both valued education very highly. Thomas received his Associates degree from the University of Connecticut specializing in Anthropology.
When he and the family returned to Alaska, he was involved in Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act land selections and became a land surveyor. He worked heavily on surveying for construction of the New Seward Highway, and also worked with his wife Linda, doing research with the University of Alaska, in partnership communities, about Inupiaq lifeways.
When he returned to Nome, he became the welcoming face of the Safety Roadhouse, always ready to tell an exciting story to guests. Many from the region have heartwarming stories of how Tommy knew his family tree very well and was able to identify how many were part of the extended family, always sharing how we each are connected and who our namesakes are.
He was also one of the best pool players in Alaska and enjoyed playing in the Nome Pool League.
Thomas is survived by his children Aleta Lynn Walker, Dayne Irving Ellanna (Barbara Dietz) (grandchildren Christopher, Lance, Brent, Mahriena, Jacob, Selina and Seth), Tara Lee Gallien (grandchildren Daniel and Gabrielle), Dawn “Ookuk” Louise Ellanna (grandchildren Jerzy and Logan), and Mischa “Apun” Frank Ellanna (Sheila Johnson) (grandchildren Linda, Arthur, Benjamin), and great-grandchildren Kamaria, Kinsley, Ethan and Jayden.
Thomas is further survived by sister Margaret Ellanna and nieces and nephews Lisa, Donna (Jimmy Carlisle), Frank, Charles (Katie Wilson), Diana, Charlene, Jason, Lesley, Nona and Renee (Chris Olanna). Nephew Edward Ellanna, niece Dorothy Angusuc, niece Kuni (Harold Muktoyuk) with grand nieces and nephews, Denise (George Langton), Jovonna (Eric Duntley), Dale (Mandy Gologergen-Johnston), Kirsten, Rachel, Jeffery, Autumn, and great grand nieces and nephews - Eathen, Payton, Peter, Dyelan, Anna, Sonya, Sarah, Parker, Chase, Abigail, Dmitri, Loretta, Eathen Marie, Danielle, Kenneth, Theodore, Cheyenne, Dylan, Tyler, Jett, Johanna, Natalie, Catherine, Mason, Declan, Aurora, Orion, Niviaaluk, Henrik, Naja, Daniel, Cory, Rohwan, David, Gabrielle, Brooke, Dade, Briannon, Killian, Cameron, Charlie, Amelia, Elijah, Gracie, Kyra, Everly and Kale Jack.
Tommy’s family wishes to extend our most heartfelt thanks to John and Dorothy Thomas, Husky Clifford Tocktoo, the amazing Norton Sound Health Corporation team: Valerie Fuller of NSHC physical therapy, Susan Hess of NSHC speech therapy, all the wonderful patient drivers, Dr. Molly Booy, Marsha Tobuk of respiratory, Charlotte, Christine and Shamrock of social services, the ER and Acute Care staff, ANMC palliative care, those friends and agencies that helped Tommy in countless ways, we extend our most sincere gratitude to each of you.