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Alaskan Lamentations: An Old Pastime

In his book,

Bone, Scott C. 1925. Alaska, its past, present, future. [Juneau, Alaska?]: Issued by the Governor’s Office.

Governor Bone talks about Alaskan history that with a few additions of more recent events, sounds like it could have been uttered by an Alaskan last week. Listen to what he says on page 15:

It is profitless to rehearse the sins of omission and commission as to Alaska, or to discuss the might-have-beens. It is a sorry, tragic chapter of American history, taken as a whole. Overlooked and neglected for four decades after the Seward purchase, save when the Klondike stampede centered attention upon the Northland; left without courts or laws or a semblance of government for years; grudgingly given piecemeal legislation to meet its most urgent needs and, finally, with reluctance, granted a delegate in Congress and subsequently, a limited form of territorial government–Alaska then, as the climax of it all, became a problem of conservation politics, and has since been dealt with academically and as a theory.

As someone who has lived in Bone’s Northland for ten years and have tried to acquaint myself with Alaskan history and politics, I think he was on to something when he declared that Alaska has been dealt with “academically and as a theory.” I mean by this that politicians of both national parties tend to deal with Alaska as an ideal (whether cherished or tarnished) rather than as a place with people.

What’s your take on this idea? And if you don’t live in Alaska, does your state have a long and noble (within your state) tradition of reciting all the ways the feds and your sister states have wronged you?

I’d like to remind readers that if my quotes from Territorial Governor Bone have intrigued you, you might want to go to your local library and request the book through Interlibrary Loan.

One Response

  1. Ohio became a state in 1803, and my forefathers were “first families.” But because I didn’t grow up here, I don’t know a lot of the early history. However, I do have a number of family members who have settled in Alaska, and within them is a spirit of “I’ll do it my way” and dislike for authority. I suspect many who settled there wanted as little interference as possible.

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