Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 9, 2002 - Issue 54


pictograph divider


Elizabeth Peratrovich Day Observance at the Alaska Native Heritage Center

credits: photo of Elizabeth Peratrovich

Alaska civil rights leaders Elizabeth Peratrovich and Howard Rock will be honored during the Elizabeth Peratrovich Day celebration on February 16, 2002 at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Observances begin at 1:00 p.m. with an opening reception, which will be followed by a candle lighting ceremony by the members of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood, as well as a performance of "When My Spirit Raised Its Hands: The Story of Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska Civil Rights," featuring author and actor Diane E. Benson. In addition, speaker Emil Notti will honor Rock for his many contributions to Alaska Natives and civil rights, and an exhibit of Mr. Rock's paintings and drawings will be on display.

February 16 was designated Elizabeth Peratrovich Day by executive proclamation in 1988, recognizing Peratrovich "for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska."

Along with her husband Roy, Peratrovich is best known for her efforts to ensure the passage of the 1945 Anti-discrimination Act by the Alaska Territorial Legislature. Her impromptu yet stirring testimony eloquently illustrated the prejudices and injustices that had theretofore been visited upon Alaska Natives, and silenced the critics of the bill. It passed by an overwhelming majority.

Peratrovich continued her efforts to bring justice and understanding to Alaska's Native people throughout her lifetime. She died in 1958, succumbing to cancer, but her legacy continues to provide inspiration to all Alaskans who seek equality and justice.

"Each year Elizabeth Peratrovich Day gives us an opportunity to pay homage to her contributions to the lives of all Alaskans," stated Margaret Nelson, president and chief executive officer of the Center. "This year we are also recognizing Howard Rock, who fought unceasingly, and to great effect, for the rights of Alaska Natives. The lives and accomplishments of these leaders boldly illustrate Isaac Newton's famous homily, 'If I have seen further, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.' Elizabeth Peratrovich and Howard Rock worked tirelessly, that we might reach further today," Nelson added.

Shortly before his birth in Point Hope, Howard Rock's maternal grandmother Sikvoan prophesized that he would one day be "a great man." True to the prophecy, Rock became an accomplished artist, writer, publisher, and Alaska Native leader. Well-known as the editor and publisher of the Tundra Times, Rock is credited with giving voice to the Alaska Native community during the long fight for a land claims settlement, and helping to build the unity that was essential to the passage of the legislation. Notti, a longtime collaborator and associate of Rock's, will share his observations about the man, his many accomplishments, and his legacy.

A number of Rock's paintings and drawings will be on display starting on February 16 and continuing through April. The images are on loan to the Center from the collection of Verbeck and Kathleen Smith of Seattle, Washington. Kathleen's great aunt Frances Kittredge commissioned the artwork from Rock while he was an art student at the University of Washington, and they appear in her book Neeluk.

The Smiths have also donated a variety of Iñupiaq artifacts and implements collected by Kathleen's grandparents, pioneer Alaskan educators Tom and Ellen Lopp. The artifacts provide a strong cultural context for Rock's paintings and drawings. Most of the items were collected during the time the Lopps taught in the village of Wales. A beautifully detailed 3-foot Iñupiaq kayak model, and a large stone oil lamp are part of the collection. The Lopps championed Rock's education and served as his surrogate family during his time in Seattle.

"My husband has visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center several times, and was quite impressed with the programs and facilities," stated Kathleen Smith. "He was so moved by the desire of the people he met there to study and recapture their cultures. We want the Iñupiaq people, and all Alaskans, to be able to see, study and appreciate the fine craftsmanship of these items." The Smith's recently published Ice Window, a compilation of Ellen Lopp's correspondence during her time in the far north.

For a detailed listing of Elizabeth Peratrovich Day events and activities at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, visit Admission to the Center is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 7 to 16, and free for children six and younger. The Center is located at 8800 Heritage Center Drive, off of North Muldoon Road near Bartlett High School.

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  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.


Canku Ota Logo


Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You