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John Crawford is Alaska Native and was born at a trapping camp on the Kuskokwim River near McGrath, Alaska. In 1939, his family moved to Anchorage, and in 1945 they moved to Seldovia, when John was about nine years old. His father found a job working on a fish tender boat. Eventually, he bought his own boat and started fishing and working in the tender fleet. John graduated from high school in Seldovia in 1955. He was involved with establishment of the Seldovia Native Association in the 1970s and served as chairman of their board for 27 years. He also helped organize the Seldovia Village Tribe and currently serves on their board. John is married to Darlene Crawford, who he met when visiting a friend who was going to school in Seward.