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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 26, 2002 - Issue 54


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Recognizing the Native Lad Who Chose the Dipper's Stars

by Katie Bausler

Alaska State FlagJuneau, Alaska, Jan. 17 - An effort to adopt a second verse for the state song that celebrates Alaska Natives is underway in Juneau.

Almost every Alaskan knows the first line of the state song. They originated with Benny Benson, a Native teen-ager whose artwork inspired the design for Alaska's flag.

Young voices opening this year's legislative session sung a second verse that recognizes Benson. Thursday, a bill to officially adopt the verse, breezed through its first House committee.

"Because the second verse does recognize all cultures. It does not only recognize one culture. Across the board, it recognizes the whole state of Alaska," said Rep. Carl Morgan Aniak, a bill sponsor.

The woman who pushed 95-year-old Alaska Poet Laureate Carole Beery Davis to write the verse in 1986 testified in favor of the bill Thursday.

It is a project Connie Munroe has been working on since the early '70s when she first went to lawmakers

"About the flag song being very limited in recognizing the sourdoughs, but what about all the other people that were here first, the first Alaskan and all the other folks and we really need some more verses and they agreed," said Connie Munroe with Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp 2.

Thursday, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau opens an exhibit marking the 75th anniversary of the eight stars of gold on a field of blue design. Other entries from the 1927 contest are also featured.

Benson's design inspired the second as much as the first verse. Whether it becomes an official part of the song is still up in the air.

Benson died in 1972. His daughter is among those who want the verse to become official.

"I think he would like that because he being a Native and he tried to help all the Native people that he could. I think he would be very pleased with it," said Charlotte Irvin, Benny Benson's daughter.

Fifteen years ago, the House approved the adoption of the second verse but it did not even make it to the Senate floor. This time, history may repeat itself. At least one senator, Pete Kelly of Fairbanks, said it is not necessary.

Second verse of "Alaska's Flag":
A Native lad chose the Dipper's stars
For Alaska's flag that there be no bars
Among our culture. Let it be known
Through years the Native's past has grown
To share life's treasures, hand in hand,
To keep Alaska our Great-Land;
We love the northern midnight sky,
The mountains, lakes and streams nearby.
The great North Star with its steady light
Will guide all cultures, clear and bright,
With nature's flag to Alaska dear,
The simple flag of the last frontier.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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