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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 8, 2003 - Issue 80


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Thursday, February 6, 2003

(Anchorage, AK) - The Alaska Native Heritage Center is celebrating Elizabeth Peratrovich Day on Saturday February 15th, 2003 from 12pm to 5pm. Admission is free. The day will be a celebration of the lives and accomplishments of Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich in the arena of civil rights in Alaska. In addition, ANHC will be honoring Dr. Peter Gordon Gould, Aleut, who was the first Alaska Native ordained Methodist minister and founder of Alaska Methodist University (AMU), now known as APU. This is one of the continuing series of Celebrating Culture Saturdays, sponsored by BP, which presents a unique cultural program each week.

"The Alaska Native Heritage Center is proud to honor Elizabeth Peratrovich with our annual celebration," stated Lonnie Jackson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "It is important that we remember the efforts and commitment Elizabeth Peratrovich made to ensure all Alaskan's are treated equally and with respect. It is in keeping with the spirit of equality voiced by Elizabeth Peratrovich that we offer this important celebration free of charge to everyone."

Born July 4, 1911 in the island fishing village of Petersburg, Alaska, Elizabeth was deeply rooted in her Tlingit heritage. Along with her husband Roy, Elizabeth is best know for her efforts to ensure the passage of the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act by the Alaska Territorial Legislature. Her moving and dramatic presentation before the Legislature on February 8, 1945 was responsible for changing the views of outspoken critics of the bill and the bill was passed 11 to 5. Peratrovich continued her civil rights efforts until her death in 1958.

In 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16 as "The Annual Elizabeth Peratrovich Day" by Executive Proclamation. "Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) Grand President, Elizabeth Peratrovich, worked tirelessly to overcome the prejudice and discrimination toward Alaska Natives. Her work and testimony were instrumental in the passage of the anti-discrimination law."

There will be an honoring ceremony by the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and the Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS). ANB Grand President, Sam Jackson and ANS Grand President, Delorosa Cadiente will be sharing reflections. The Tlingit (Native) National Anthem will be performed by the Tlingit and Haida Dancers of Anchorage and Naa Luudisk Gwaii Yaxtii. Tlingit playwright, actor and director Diane E. Benson will present When My Spirit Raised Its Hand: The Story of Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska Civil Rights, a play highlighting the debate and testimony of the 1945 Territorial Legislature.

There will be Proclamations from the Office of Governor Frank Murkowski, to be presented by Patrick Anderson, and Mayor George Wuerch will present the Proclamation from the Office of the Mayor of the Municipality of Anchorage.

ANHC will also be honoring Dr. Peter Gordon Gould, Aleut, inspirational founder of Alaska Methodist College. Dr. Gould was born in 1901 on the island of Unga in the Aleutian Chain. At age 6, he was sent away to the Lessee Lee Children's Home in Unalaska. His mother told him that he would go to school and grow to be a good man and do great things. They would never see each other again, though they corresponded throughout the years. At age 27, he graduated from Syracuse University, attended Auburn Seminary and fulfilled his dream to become the first Alaska Native Methodist Minister.

While conducting a major study for the Methodist Church in Alaska he concluded that the Methodist Church should create a private liberal arts college in Alaska. At that time, only 5% of those who went to colleges in other states returned to Alaska. Dr. Gould spent 10 years working to raise money and the campus was dedicated June 28, 1958. The first classes were held in September of 1960 and the University awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1965 and the APU medal, the highest honor the University can bestow. His vision holds true today, " longer will Alaskans have to be sent from the land of their birth to seek the benefits of higher education and a full life." Rev. Richard Gay, Rev. David Fison and representatives of Bishop Paup from the United Methodist Church will be presiding over the ceremony.

Frank Perez, Tsimshian, will be the demonstrating artist. Perez was born in Metlakatla, Alaska and began carving in 1978. By preference, he is a very traditional Tsimshian artist, following protocol established in his culture and art form. In 1997, Perez was invited to the Smithsonian to show his work. His traditional art includes drums, masks, bowls and other Tsimshian pieces.

ANHC will be unveiling a new Elizabeth Peratrovich exhibit that will be a permanent addition to the Center. There will be Native arts and crafts sessions available throughout the day for all ages. Weather permitting there will be snowshoeing available.

Visitors can experience the five recreated village sites that illustrate the traditional structures in a typical village before or shortly after contact with other cultures. Knowledgeable tour guides will share history, culture and traditions of each Native culture.

In addition to ANHC's celebration of Elizabeth Peratrovich, there will be a park dedication on Sunday, February 16th at 1pm. The Municipality of Anchorage Park will be called the Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich Park and is located at 4th Avenue and E Street in Anchorage.

Kay E. Ashton (907) 330-8055


The Alaska Native Heritage Center is an independent, nonprofit that is open year-round as a gathering place to celebrate, perpetuate and share Alaska Native cultures; it is a place for all people. It is located at 8800 Heritage Center Drive in northeast Anchorage, just off Muldoon Road North near Bartlett High School. For more information about other events and programs, visit

Kay E. Ashton
Public Relations
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Fax: 907 330-8030
Phone: 800 315-6608
907 330-8055

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