INTENSIVE – Professional dancer Adam McKinney formerly with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and choreographer Sarah Ashkin lead a rehearsal of an upcoming Summer Dance Intensive production Thursday in Allen Hall. Students will dance a 25-minute program Saturday 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. A five dollar donation is suggested at the door. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

'Jada' Katherine Mona Smith


“Jada” Katherine Mona Smith

A series of services for “Jada” Katherine Mona Smith will begin with a memorial 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Sitka Salvation Army. A dinner will follow;  dessert and snack donations welcome. 

A memorial will then be held 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Juneau Salvation Army. A coffeetime will follow; dessert and snack donations welcome.

In Kake, funeral services for Jada will begin Nov. 12 with a singspiration in the evening. A coffeetime will be held during the gathering; dessert and snack donations welcome. At 6 p.m. Nov. 13 a memorial service will be held at the Kake Community Hall. A coffeetime will follow; dessert and snack donations welcome.

A funeral will be 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at Kake Community Hall followed by a community dinner at 5 p.m. It will be a Native foods potluck and dinner and desserts and donations are welcome.

Jada walked into the forest 12:10 p.m. Oct. 28, surrounded by her family and friends after a sudden illness. She was 73. Her family, clan, friends and community greatly appreciate the outpouring of love and support during this incredibly difficult time.

Jada was Tlingit and Haida of Keex Kwaan (Kake), and lived in Sitka the latter part of her life. On her Tlingit side she was Raven Kaach.adi, freshwater marked sockeye salmon. On her Haida side she was Eagle hummingbird of the Tiits git nei people. Her Tlingit name was Ee Kahnx Klen and her Haida name was Xulh kii wil duens. She was born Feb. 1, 1944, in Petersburg, the oldest daughter of Thomas and Mona (Ingram/Frank) Jackson, originally of Haida Gwaii and Hydaburg before marrying Tommy.

She attended Kake elementary school. Because of studious habits she graduated early from Sheldon Jackson School in May 1961. Her plan was to attend college in South Dakota but met the love of her life, Henry “Chana” Thomas Smith. They married Dec. 20, 1962, and started a family soon after.

In her younger years, she was employed by Keku Canning Company. Jada’s desire for helping others led her to work at the Kake Senior Center, assisting the Elders of her community where her infectious laughter and cheerful disposition were much loved. She also worked at the clinic in Kake where she was employed by SEARHC to provide social services, assisting with alcohol and drug prevention and family services.

“We don’t know how many lives she touched, but we see it in the love she received back from all who spent time with her,” her family said.

Jada was a woman of faith, a prayer warrior, and a woman of service. Her passions included volunteering with the Salvation Army and playing piano – one of her greatest gifts and blessings – and she shared time and time again for the community, for families in need of spiritual music to help hold them up.

She was an incredible beadwork artist, and loved crocheting and knitting, too. Jada was renowned for her delicious breadmaking, especially her “Big Brown Buns” as she liked to call them.

Her joyful storytelling and inspirational leadership were a testament to her devotion in God. Her steadfastness to family led to her rearing and babysitting many of her grandchildren. She inspired and taught her grandchildren her love of music and baking. Anyone who knew Jada knew her grandchildren were her pride and joy; she always cherished each and every one of them.

She was known by all for her empathy, compassion, and her famous quote “no one cries alone in my presence.”

She was a role model who taught all to be kind, respectful, and loving. She showed that sharing laughter and affection were the best medicine. Her love of her culture and peoples resonated through her teachings on how to harvest and prepare foods off the land.

She was known for her famous Kake seaweed and her food sales during community events. One of her favorite pastimes was going on long rides out the road, soaking up time with her family. People looked forward to seeing her, knowing they’d receive one of the best hugs – she made everyone feel like they were so special. She had an incredible way of telling stories interjecting humor, drama, and suspense. One of her best qualities was her ability to start telling a joke and mid story start laughing so hard she’d forget the punchline and make everyone around her start laughing too.

It’s no surprise that another favorite quote about Jada is “laughter through tears was her favorite emotion.”

“She has left an enormous hole in all of our hearts and we are grateful to all who have been standing beside us catching our tears,” her family said.

Jada was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; brothers Thomas “Squirt” Jackson Jr., Norman Jackson, Loren Jackson Sr., Gary Jackson and Myron Jackson; and sister, Cheryl Evan. She was also preceded in death by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

She is survived by sons Henry Jr. (wife Bonnie) of Wasilla, Tony (wife Delphine) of Kake, Garrett (wife Jean), and Michael (wife Sarah); daughters, Sonya and Karlee of Sitka; adopted sons Lonny Tucker (wife Lonna) of Kenai and Anthony Gastelum (wife Georgie) of Kake, newly adopted daughter Noel Evans (husband Michael) of New Mexico.

She is also survived by her brothers, Michael (wife Edna), Joel (wife Ann, deceased), Lawrence (wife Ellie) of Kake; sister Della Cheney (husband William) of Kake and Juneau; adopted brothers, Lary (wife Velma) Schafer of Fairbanks, Dave Arthur of Georgia, Paul Aceveda (wife Marcia) of Kake who grew up close with Tommy and Mona’s children; and adopted sisters Renee Kadake of Kake, Sharon Valdez of Oregon, and Mary Ortiz of Arizona.


She is also survived by her Auntie Lena Skeek of Kake and her Uncle Raymond “Shawaan” Jackson of Kake and Sitka. Jada is also survived by her 16 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and many cousins, nieces and nephews, and numerous brothers and sisters in faith, clan and friendship.

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