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Emily Ivanoff Brown
1904 – 1982
Born in Unalakleet, raised in Shaktoolik and educated at Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon, Ms. Brown, whose Eskimo name was Ticasuk, was an educator for 30 years and devoted herself to record and pass on knowledge about the unwritten history of all her Inupiaq people. She obtained a provisional teaching certificate and became a grade school teacher and an advocate of bilingual education. In 1954, at the age of 50, Emily began 10 years of attending summer school at the university to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in education while teaching full time during the academic years. She received two B.A.’s and a Mater’s degrees from the University of Alaska, finishing her graduate work in the 1970’s. It was while working on her Master’s degree in 1974 that she published her first book, Grandfather of Unalakleet, which was later republished as The Roots of Ticasuk: an Eskimo Woman’s Family Story. Emily’s native name, “Ticasuk” means: “Where the four winds gather their treasures from all parts of the world . . . the greatest of which is knowledge. Her best known book, released in 1987, Tales of Ticasuk: Eskimo Legends and Stories, presents several Inuit legends in Inuit Mythology.
Emily’s service to her state was widely known and she received many awards throughout her lifetime, including a presidential citation by Richard Nixon for her “exceptional service to others, in the finest American tradition.” She was twice cited by the Alaska legislature for preservation of Alaska Native culture and language.
Source: University of Alaska Electronic Info Spot. Emily Ivanoff Brown’s, “Tales of Ticasuk,” from the forward by Journalism Professor Jimmy Bedford.
Emily Ivanoff Brown, Tales of Ticasuk. 1987, University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks
Born in the Philippines, Thelma came to the U.S. in 1951 at age 15, earned a degree in biology, and eventually moved to Anchorage in the late 60s. Politically active, she ran George McGoverns 1972 presidential campaign in Alaska. In 1974, she was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, where she served four terms, becoming the first Filipino American legislator in the U.S.
Once her children finished college, she obtained her J.D. degree from the District of Columbia School of Law in 1991. In 1994, she was appointed Director of Alaskas Office of Equal Opportunity. An expert on Alaskan/Filipino History, Thelma wrote Filipinos in Alaska: 1788-1958 and produced a documentary film on the topic.
From 1952 until 1968, Edith was secretary of the Arctic Circle Chamber of Commerce and also served on the Board of Directors of the Alaska State Chamber. She was elected twice to the House of Representatives (1953-1956) and once to the Territorial Senate (1957-1958). In 1967, she was named the Outstanding Alaskan and was appointed by Walter Hickel to the University of Alaskas Board of Regents where she helped shape the future of the university, serving as a Regent from 1967-1975 and a UA Foundation Trustee from 1979-1983.
Susan Butcher won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 1986, the second woman ever to do so, and then went on to set more records: she was the second 4-time winner in 1990, and the first to win 4 out of 5 sequential races. She ran the race 17 times, with 15 finishes in the top 10 and 12 in the top five. Susan was inducted into the Iditarod Hall of Fame in 1997. She was the first and only person to take a sled dog team to the top of Denali.
Susan was an incredible athlete and an inspiration to all women. To honor her memory, the first Saturday in March the State of Alaska celebrates Susan Butcher Day.
Poldine Demoski Carlo is an author and an elder of the Koyukon Athabascan of interior Alaska. She was born in Nulato, Territory of Alaska in 1920. She grew up in a traditional manner where her family hunted moose, picked berries and fished for salmon on lands and river adjacent to the village.
Carlo married William “Bill” Carlo in 1940. They have produced eight children: five sons (William, Jr., Kenny, Walter, Glenn, and Stewart), and three daughters (Dorothy, Lucy, and Kathleen). and dozens of grand children and great grandchildren.
When Carlo and her husband Bill first moved to Fairbank in the mid fifties, Alaska Natives didn’t have a meeting place to call their own. They wanted to talk about better education and economic opportunities, as well as civil rights.
“Even the people who didn’t drink had no place to go In the 50’s and 60’s except the bars,” said Carlo. “We started inviting them over to our house. For two or three winters, we had different village mushers and their dogs staying here in the woods behind our house.” That all changed after Carlo’s relative Ralph Perdue suggested to her that they start a Native organization in Fairbanks.
“I really didn’t have a vision of what the organization, the Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), would look like”, Carlo said. “I would never have thought it would grow like it has. What started as four or five people meeting around the Carlo kitchen table has grown into a multi-million dollar organization with forty different programs and a staff or over 200”.
Since the 50s , Carlo has been involved with FNA through much of its growth by serving as a Board Member and advocate. Carlo is also an active member of the Denakkanaaga Board of Directors, which serves Elders in the interior region of the Tanana Chief’s Conference. She has also served on the University of Alaska Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, the Alaska Native Education Advisory Board, the North Star Borough Senior Citizens Commission, the Alaska Bicentennial Commission Board, the Aboriginal Senior Citizens of Alaska and many other organizations.
She serves as an Elder mentor during the World Eskimo Indian Olympics and can be seen participating in every Doyon, Limited Shareholder meeting. Carlo continues to accept many opportunities to show support to those in times of need by volunteering her support and her voice.
Poldine wrote, Nulato: An Indian Life on the Yukon, a novel describing life in the 1920’s and 1930’s growing up in the Athabascan way in the village of Nulato. Today one of the Athabascan traditions Poldine loves most is singing and dancing. In 1994, Pauline was profiled in “Singing We Come: Shaping our Future Through Language and Song,” an Institute of American Indian Arts collection of stories about Native women singers and storytellers from throughout the United States. Poldine wrote a powerful and moving song about her daughter, and she recently shared it with the Māori whānau visiting in Fairbanks. She continues to share her traditions through singing. She loves to sing with the Koyukon Athabascan Singers. In 2015 when she greeted President Barack Obama in Anchorage she sang an Athabascan song about Denali – to show him how important it was to return the name to indigenous roots.
Carlo has been a mentor to other women through her early demonstration of gathering people together to benefit the community. She continues to accept any opportunity to show support to those in need by volunteering her time. For more than 15 years, Poldine shared Athabascan traditions with children through a program of cultural enrichment in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. And she continues to teach different groups today upon request.
Fairbanks Native Association has named its main office building the Poldine Carlo Building in her honor. She is beloved throughout the region.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/W8KiuspsAeo
A diminutive woman who often dressed as a man and never married, Nellie Cashman was one of Alaska’s original female entrepreneurs, as well as a prospector and an “angel of mercy.” From opening grocery stores and restaurants to wandering the frontier mining camps of Alaska seeking her fortune, she was soon known by all she encountered for her charity, courage, and determination. Nellie was a resourceful woman who knew what she wanted. She was rewarded with modest wealth, but was constantly giving it away to the poor and needy. She was inducted into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame in 2006.
Orah Clark was a pioneer school teacher. She was the first Superintendent of the first Anchorage school. She helped establish schools up and down the railroad belt, in Wasilla, Eske, Fairview, and Matanuska. She taught in Unga, Kennicott, Ouzinkie, Takotna, Kiana and Nushagek , ending her 51-year career in Moose Pass. A champion of Native rights, she believed that all children should be integrated in schools to foster individual growth.
Arlene “Buddy” Clay was born in Gardiner Maine, Aug. 2, 1912, to Annie Mayne Palmer and Charles Gordon Palmer. She was raised in Mexico, Maine, and graduated from high school in 1929. She then entered the New England Conservatory of music. She graduated from there in 1934.
Arlene met Earl V. Clay at the conservatory and they married June 26, 1936. They then moved to Manchester, NH, where Earl was the conductor of the NH state symphony. Arlene played trumpet in the conservatory symphony orchestra.
After the war broke out and Pearl Harbor was bombed on the 7th of December 1941, the orchestra broke up. The older workers went into military work and the younger ones joined the military.
In December of 1943 Arlene and Earl left for Seattle by train in response to an ad from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, forerunner of the FAA. After arriving in Seattle, they received six months of training at Boeing field as aircraft communicators and controllers. The Army then flew her and Earl to Nome in a DC3. While in Nome they worked for the CAA as aircraft communicators and controllers. In September of 1944 they transferred to Aniak. Together, they spent 10 years driving dog teams all over the Aniak area. They visited trappers, prospectors and generally explored the rural area.
Upon arriving in Aniak, communication was limited to one telephone at the airport office. As soon as civilians were allowed to obtain ham radio licenses in 1948, Clay received her license, KL707. To this day, Clay has continued to operate her ham radio and, in fact, commented that she selected her retirement home on the basis that “… they let me have my radio with me.”
Arlene and Earl resigned in 1947 from the CAA. Earl died in 1956.
After Earl died Arlene stayed at the homestead, which was about three miles upriver from Aniak. She took two jobs, one as a postal clerk and the other as secretary at the CAA. She commuted to work by dog team in the winter and by boat in the summer.
In 1960 Arlene became the magistrate for the Alaska Courts and was responsible for 12 of the surrounding villages. She served in this position for 17 ½ years. Magistrates had all the power of the U.S. Commissioner. It was during this time that defendants received the right to demand a jury for misdemeanor trials. This resulted in more travel for trials in the villages. The State troopers would fly to Aniak and fly over her cabin at the home site to alert her they were coming and she would get in her boat or dog team and meet them in Aniak.
Arlene Clay was always known as Mrs. Clay. While she didn’t have a degree in law, it was not required at the time. She was known as a tough but fair magistrate judge. One story that circulated concerned a couple of attorneys that came out from Bethel for a hearing. They were dressed in blue jeans and had no ties. She told them that when appearing in her court they were to wear suits and ties or she would hold them in contempt. They got the message and dressed appropriately from then on. She always wore her robe and while court was held in her house in those early days, strict courtroom protocol was required.
Clay retired from the Alaska Court System in 1977 but continued to live in Aniak for many more years. In May, 2012 Clay received the Judge Nora Quinn Award from the Alaska Bar Association which “is presented to an individual Alaskan who has made an extraordinary or sustained effort to assist Alaska’s rural residents, especially its native population, overcome language and cultural barriers to obtaining justice through the legal system.” She was further honored at a reception in Aniak on June 27, 2012, with the dedication of the new courtroom in her honor. The program for this event referred to Clay as “the face of the Alaska Court System during the early years of statehood.”
In 2011, Clay moved to a Wasilla retirement home where she is able to put up her ham antennas, and she continues to participate every night on the ham sniper net. She checks everyone in each Thursday night.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/RRqBJ-F7qPk
“Aniak Courtroom Dedicated to Magistrate Clay” ,Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, July 14, 2012 “99-year-old Ham radio operator still tuned in”, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Oct. 30, 2011 http://jukebox.uaf.edu/site7/p/378, Project Jukebox, Digital Branch of UAF Oral History Program, Judges of Alaska, Arlene Clay
Carol Comeau has led Alaska’s public education system to be responsive to the needs of all children, particularly those who have difficulty achieving academic success in the classroom. While the majority of her career was based in Anchorage as a teacher, principal, administrator, and ultimately in 2000, the Superintendent of the Anchorage School District, she also directed the Alaska Association of School Administrators in the effort to increase state funding for all schools in the state.
During Carol’s service, she appealed to the community as a whole–to citizens who don’t have children, businesses, and service organizations to act on our mutual responsibility to be involved with kids in order to produce caring, competent and involved adults.
With a master’s degree in Vocational Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Education conferred by Western State College of Colorado, Carolyn Covington has always been a strong advocate for innovative and inclusive education in Alaska. She began her professional career as a teacher in Whittier, then taught high school in Palmer and ended her professional career as assistant professor at Mat-Su College (UAA).
Covington was successful in receiving grants to develop a district-wide Diversified Occupations program in the Mat-Su Borough School District and another, the Skill Center, providing open-entry, open-exit classes at Mat-Su College. These two programs made it possible for her students, primarily women, to successfully develop office occupations and related skills to complete high school, earn an associate’s degree in Office Occupations and move on to job placement or further education.
Covington was a founding member in 1980 of the Valley Women’s Resource Center, the first resource and shelter in the Mat-Su Borough for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a political activist, she served 29 years as secretary of the Alaska Democratic Party and ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature in 1998. She is a tireless volunteer and board member of many non-profit organizations and continues to be a strong political voice in the community. Both in education and community service, Covington is known for her advocacy for women, the disabled and other persons with special needs. She is described as a “model feminist and human being” and was nominated for teaching young women “the way to self-actualization by role-modeling her equal-rights values every waking moment of her life.”
Covington’s service to the community is extensive. In addition to being a charter board member and having filled every executive board position for Valley Women’s Resource Center, she helped to organize the Mat-Su chapter of P-Flag, was a charter member of Mat-Su Coalition for Choice, served on the board and as president of the board of Valley Hospital Association, and served as a board member and secretary of the Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union. For 15 years, Covington has served as secretary-treasurer of Valley Residential Services, which provides housing for low-income and other persons with special needs. Radio Free Palmer, a young community radio station, has profited from Covington’s expertise as treasurer and volunteer.
Covington also maintains financial records for Church of the Covenant, Mat-Su Senior Services, Mat-Su Democrats and Valley Christian Conference. She is also pianist for Church of the Covenant in Palmer.
Covington has received several awards from the Alaska Democratic Party in recognition of her service and achievements: the 1996 Mat Su Democrat of the Year Award; 2002, “Queen Bess” Award given to women for service to party, state, and nation; 2004, Alaska Democratic Party’s Lifetime Achievement Award; 2012, Outstanding Service Award on the occasion of her retirement as secretary. However, Carolyn would say that her greatest achievement is the love of her husband and their large family.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/0LZKJXOgGzQ
As the eldest child of the Rev. Ralph Carson and the granddaughter of another Baptist minister, Kit was inspired by the power of their sermons. When Kit was in high school, her family settled into Bloomington, Ill., — a community with old oaks, beautiful buildings and a strong history. Kit was a successful student, following the model of her family. She excelled in speech and drama, and was a star in many of the college theater productions at Illinois Wesleyan, her alma mater. Clearly, she was inspired not only by the skillful speech she saw in her father’s sermons but by the commitment to community which her parents instilled in their children. With the tenor and strength of her father’s sermons as a backdrop, Kit employed her voice and stage skill to move mountains, including giving testimony for statehood before Congress, and testifying before the Anchorage City Council on many community causes.
As a young college graduate, Kit traveled to Ketchikan, Alaska, to visit a childhood friend who had married a coast guardsman stationed there. In Ketchikan she was asked to do a radio show for “shut ins”, using her voice as an inspiration to others. Short months after arriving, she met Edwin Crittenden, a young Coast Guard lieutenant. They were married within the year. After World War II, the couple returned to “the states”, but their love of Alaska brought them back to Anchorage in 1949. They raised their family of six children and numerous Irish setters in the home Ed designed for them below 15th and F Streets. It was this union of Kit, Ed and Alaska that provided the background for her achievements. Kit was awed by the physical beauty of Alaska. Married to an architect, they were committed to bringing the beauty of the physical world to the growing city of Anchorage. This was to be the basis from which she was able to inspire community leaders to see what Anchorage could be: a city beautiful enough to “match its mountains”.
In the KSKA “Forget-me-Not” interview Kit provided, she describes how she was able to use her vision and speaking skills to persuade city officials to redesign the proposed expansion of C Street – elevating it to pass over the Chester Creek greenbelt instead of bisecting the land with a large road.
“I could see that we had to have more trails, so I began to make the case to citizens and leaders from all over town. We could not have the children and bikers walking up and over C Street with cars rushing by; we needed an underpass for safe trails. As I spoke with people, they would say, ‘I believe in that, I will vote for that, we WILL have that!’ Soon, we formed the Citizens Committee to Save Chester Creek Greenbelt Park, and our group was able to win our case in court. At the time, the city manager said, ‘If we are going to have pedestrian underpasses at C Street, we are then going to do it for all the roads that are built over the Chester Creek greenbelt’.
Never paid for her work, Kit devoted endless hours to inspiring Anchorage mayors and other elected officials to envision the beautification of Anchorage as well as the preservation of its historic buildings through wise planning and development. Historic preservation of a community that was only 50 years old was a radical notion in 1970. In 1974, the late Lucy Cuddy wrote: “New York has Ada Louise (Huxtable, then-architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal and outspoken advocate for preservation of New York’s historic landmarks); Anchorage boasts Kit. We are proud!”
Kit will be remembered for her role in the creation of the Chester Creek greenbelt, as well as the preservation of the Oscar Anderson House at Elderberry Park, establishing the Urban Design Commission and the Anchorage Historic Preservation Commission, which she chaired for ten years. Most recently, she authored “Get Mears!” a nationally recognized biography of Col. Frederick Mears, who supervised the construction of the Alaska Railroad. He was also responsible for the planning and the design of the town site that became Anchorage. Kit’s significant efforts all carried the honorable objective of bringing the people of Anchorage to a sense of our community’s beauty and history. Whether providing testimony to Congress for statehood or arguing for the preservation of historic homes, Kit had a vision that was infectious. With her skills and tenacity, she inspired us to work toward a community that celebrates its beauty as well as its past. Kit was a pioneer for community involvement. Her accomplishments show that with a strong vision, tempered speech and firm persistence, a voice for beautification and preservation can be heard. Kit Crittenden made Anchorage a better place to live.
Created from her family’s personal memories and experiences.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/VJ6y9HSYOyE
Marvel Crosson learned to fly in San Diego, California. She followed her brother, Joe Crosson, to Alaska in 1927, where she received the first aviation license issued to a female pilot in the Alaska Territory. The press nicknamed her “Bird Girl” and “Pollyanna of the North” in honor of her exploits, which included setting a new altitude record for women in 1929. Marvel died in August, 1929, when her parachute failed to open properly after the plane’s engine quit.
Jeanmarie Larson Crumb was born on the summer solstice, June 21, 1945 at St. Joseph’s hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her mother could hear the cheering from the crowd watching the traditional midnight sun baseball game. The new baby was born at the end of the Second World War, at a time that the United States and her allies emerged victorious. It was a time of hope and soon became a time of great prosperity and growth, “the fabulous fifties”. Although her family had modest means, the optimism of the times profoundly influenced Jeanmarie’s world view. At the time of her graduation from high school in 1963, the direction that the country and the world seemed to be headed was encouragingly positive. The optimistic outlook became a permanent part of her character.
Her mother Alice read to her from an early age and helped her to learn the alphabet before starting school. Thus began a lifelong love of books. Her Fairbanks elementary school did not have a library for the elementary grades, but each elementary classroom had two or three large bookcases filled with children’s literature. In grade three the entire collection of books was exchanged with the other third grade class at the Christmas holiday. Jeanmarie remembers reading all of the books from both collections.
Strict and demanding old fashioned teachers with lace up shoes with clunky heels were the norm at Main school in Fairbanks. In fifth grade Miss Wilson required recitation of lengthy poems in front of the class. Although Fairbanks was a small isolated town in the far north, the education system was exceptional.
Her father fostered in her the expectation that she would attend college. Beginning with grade 7, he had her accompany him to the bank every two weeks when he received his paycheck. He had her fill out a deposit slip and deposit $20.00 into her college fund. The resulting accumulation of funds paid for tuition and books when she attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Deeply rooted in Alaska, Jeanmarie Larson Crumb can trace her Native heritage back five generations. Participation in cultural activities and in her Native corporation, Doyon, Ltd., has always been important to her.
Throughout her lifetime she was privileged to receive information, cooperation, and inspiration from many individuals. She acknowledges that her success was dependent upon their encouragement and support. First and foremost she would like to express gratitude to her parents, Albert E. Larson and Alice E. Larson. Her father worked as an engineer on the steamer Nenana for 18 years. Her mother was at one time the youngest postmaster in Alaska.
She would like to recognize her elementary school teachers Gladys Wilson and secondary teachers Doris D Ray and Margie Johnson, as well as her University of Alaska professor David E. Clarke. She also says that D. M. (Mick) Murphy and Ray Barnhart were wonderfully supportive managers of the Alaska Rural Teacher Training Corps (ARTTC). Dennis Demmert is to be credited for telling Jeanmarie about the Harvard American Indian Program. Edna Lamebull was unfailingly supportive during their years together at the Anchorage School District. Patty Dolese shared the day to day management of the Migrant Education Summer Camps and became a permanent friend. Jeanmarie’s academic advisor for her USC doctoral program was Dr. John W. Stallings. He authorized her to be able to finish her coursework in Alaska after she discovered that she was severely allergic to the Los Angeles smog. Other friends who played vital roles are Kristine Block and Dee Gould.
Upon completion of her Masters degree in Education at Harvard, Jeanmarie Larson Crumb was invited by Senator Ted Stevens to work in his Washington D.C. Office. She politely declined, as she had decided to resume her career in Alaska. Early in her career she had decided to focus her efforts on serving Alaska Native people. She had the good fortune to work for the Fairbanks Native Association, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Native Foundation, Cook Inlet Native Association, and the Alaska Native Health Board.
Passage of the federal Indian Self Determination Act in 1974 coincided with her appointment in December of 1975 to President/Executive Director of the Cook Inlet Native Association (CINA). BeIng In the right place at the right time meant that the organization went through a period of rapid growth as the new law enabled Native American non profits to begin to take over management of programs formerly managed by the federal government. During her tenure both BIA Social Services and Employee Assistance were transferred to CINA. While at Cook Inlet Native Association she initiated regional health programs that became the model for the rest of the state. CINA eventually grew into the Southcentral Foundation.
Jeanmarie Larson Crumb believes that she was born at the perfect time to participate in Alaska community life, as her life has been synonymous with larger major historical waves such as the end of World War II, the Women’s Movement, the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, the Indian Self-Determination Act, and the environmental movement.
She has been a role model for other women who aspire to careers in public service, public health and education. Since a second retirement in 2006 Jeanmarie has enjoyed traveling and spends a few months in the winter in an RV community in Arizona. She is also working on a book about her mother’s life.
Chronological List of Positions and degrees earned:
Social Studies/, English Teacher, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, 1968-1969
Program Manager, Employee Assistance Program, Fairbanks Native Association, 1969-1971
Deputy Director, Alaska Federation of Natives, Alaska Student Higher Education Services, 1971-1972
Alaska State Operated Schools System, Project Assistant, Alaska Rural Teacher Training Program, 1972-1974
Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1974-1975, Ed. M.
Executive Director/President Cook Inlet Native Association, 1975-1977
Alaska Native Foundation Village Management Assistance Program, 1978-1979
Anchorage School District, Director of Community Relations, 1979-1988
Coordinator Migrant Education Anchorage School District, 1989-1997
University of Southern California, Ed. D, School Administration, 1992
Candidate for Lt. Gov. Green Party, 1990
Barbara Brennan School of Healing, Certificate, 1999
Health Policy Specialist, Alaska Native Health Board, 2002-2004
State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Tobacco Disparities Coordinator, 2004-2006
Alaska Native Education Association
Alaska Governor’s Council on Career and Vocational Education (served 8 years, chaired one year)
Alaska Children’s Services Board of Directors
Cook Inlet Soroptimist Club
Commissioners Coalition for Native Education
Anchorage School District Indian Education Advisory Committee (chair)
Anchorage School District Minority Educational Concerns Committee
Alaska Challenger Learning Center Steering/Advisory Committee
Phi Delta Kappa
Who’s Who of American Women 1989/1990 Edition
Notable Alaskan Women published by the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/upLJ930ayeM
Betty Jane Puckett (later spelling her name Betti) was born July 21, 1924, in O’Neill, Neb., to Fay and Nellie Puckett, grew up in Nebraska and earned a liberal arts degree from Doan University. The consummate educator, Betti started out teaching high school biology, English and Spanish. In the early 1940s, she pulled up her Nebraska roots and moved to Seattle to take on a new career in banking at the Bank of California. It was while living in Seattle, that she met the love of her life Alaska attorney Dan Cuddy, on a blind date, and that blind date wove into a marriage that lasted 62 years – from 1948 until her death in 2010. The Cuddys spent their honeymoon on the new Alaska Highway making their way home.
Betti’s community leadership in Alaska began in the 1950s when she was a young mother, and she volunteered as a Girl Scout leader and secretary/treasurer of the Anchorage Women’s Club. She then held a seat on the organizational committee for what became Alaska Pacific University.
An advocate for well rounded education, Betti organized the Treasures of Sight and Sound (TOSS) in the 1960s. TOSS was the self-funded predecessor to the Community Schools Program, which paved the way for local theater productions. For almost six decades, Anchorage children who’ve turned a cartwheel, played an instrument, sang a song or acted out a scene on stage can thank Betti Cuddy for the chance to do so. She and the program received a Gold Pan Award from the Greater Anchorage Chamber of Commerce in 1972. “I just thought the schools should be teaching more than the ‘three Rs’,” Betti said. After Community Schools took over from TOSS, Betti became a prolific patron of the Anchorage arts, especially the theater. She became a board member for the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and that group’s Symphony Committee.
During the late 1970s, Betti sat on the State Board of Education, and continued to be a prolific patron of Anchorage arts, especially the theater. She served as a board member of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and that group’s Symphony Committee. A lifetime member or the Anchorage Women’s Club, she helped form the organization’s FREE Committee, a grass-roots women’s only political advocacy effort in the 1970s. Cuddy was named honorary chairwoman of the YWCA Anchorage Academy of Woman Achievers. At the university level, Betti played a major role in the renovation of the Lucy Cuddy Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus and helped develop a renewed focus for the university’s culinary arts and hospitality programs through remodeling the facility and retooling the curriculum. “She was an ardent supporter of UAA’s Lucy Cuddy Hall and a tremendous fan of the Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Dietetics and Nutrition Program,” said Tim Doebler, the program’s UAA Director. “She will be greatly missed and her kindness will always be remembered. This program and facility would not be what it is today if it hadn’t been for her. I feel like I’ve lost a co-worker.”
In her most recent years, Betti Cuddy was a supporter of the Cuddy Family Midtown Park near the Loussac Library in Anchorage. When completed, the park will include a covered stage and seating area for outdoor theatrical venues, amenities Betti felt were important to encourage community performances. In honor of her efforts as a supporter, a landscaped area of the park was designated “Betti’s garden.” On Aug. 16, 2001, one of Cuddy’s granddaughters was killed by a drunk driver. In the aftermath, Cuddy devoted herself to battling alcohol abuse by facilitating communication between parents and children on the subject. Above all of Betti Cuddy’s community activities, however, she considered her most important role was as a wife to Dan, and mother to their six children: Betsy (David) Lawer, David (Kathy) Cuddy, Gretchen Cuddy, Jane (Gary) Klopfer, Lucy (Mark) Mahan, and Laurel (Fred) Stutzer.
Many believed Betti’s greatest strength was her unusual ability to organize people and get them moving in the same direction. She consistently displayed this ability throughout a lifetime of service in Alaska, and she instilled her views on community service in all her children.
Betti Cuddy impressed everyone with initiative and a take-action approach to address problems or fill needs she witnessed in the community. When she saw something she thought needed to be done, she did something about it. Betti was always reluctant to “toot her own horn.” But her forthrightness and willingness to sacrifice her own time and money provided a great example of community involvement to countless women.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/DWotZEPJNyU
http://www.fnbalaska.com/44.cfm?id=173 — Obituary
http://www.adn.com/2010/01/13/1092462/arts-patron-education-leader-betti.html – Obituary
http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_story/5554466/article-Anchorage-arts-patron-Betti-Cuddy-dead-at-85 — Obituary
Lucy Evelyn Huie Hon was born of German and Scotch-English parentage, a fifth-generation American, to Daniel Hon (1860-1929) and Margaret Pamelia Gaines Hon (1867-1939) on Aug. 2, 1889, in Waldren, Scott County, Ark. Her grandparents were farmers, her father a lawyer and a judge. The oldest of four, her siblings were: Mabel Fairfax Hon Woods (1892-1975), Mildred Foster Hon Murry (1897-1967) and Daniel Gaines Hon (1898-1950).
Cuddy graduated from college in 1911 and became a teacher. “I didn’t want to go to the University of Arkansas. … I wanted to go west. … My father told me what to do and I did it,” she is quoted as saying in an Anchorage Times article.
In 1916 the husband of a friend was the superintendent of schools in Valdez and sent her a cablegram offering her the position of principal to the upper level students – five high school students and three eighth graders. So after teaching school for five years, Cuddy left her family home by herself, traveled from Fort Smith, Ark., across the continent by train for four days and four nights, to Seattle, Wash., and then embarked on a seven-day boat trip to Valdez. She immediately fell in love with Alaska. When reminiscing, she used to say that as she walked down the long wooden walkway from the boat to town, the thing she remembered most was that it was 11 o’clock at night and it wasn’t dark yet, there were waterfalls and everything was so quiet. It was so peaceful.
Valdez was a bustling town of only 500, four men for every woman. In the 1970s she told an audience at the Anchorage Museum that she ate at a boarding house where there were about a dozen men and she was the only woman but not one of those men was someone you would want to marry, in fact, most would “bore the life out of you.” She would eventually meet Warren Cuddy, a young law graduate from Puget Sound College, and said he was worth the wait.
In many of her interviews Cuddy liked to tell the story of Warren’s proposal to her. She says a woman who was “quite the social dame” of Valdez asked her whether Warren had proposed yet. When Cuddy said no, she suggested that maybe if she would quit her incessant talking he might be able to get a sentence out and ask her.
Lucy Hon, 27, and Warren Ninde Cuddy, 30, were wed in Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Ark., on Aug. 15, 1917. They returned to Valdez afterwards.
After a couple of years passed, the Cuddys had two boys, David Warren, born in 1919 and Daniel Hon, born in 1921. She claimed that the babies were the most important things that ever came into her life.
United States President Warren G. Harding and Vice President Herbert Hoover visited Alaska to mark the beginning of the railroad in 1923. Cuddy, normally a woman with impish humor, was tongue-tied as she presented the president a bouquet of blue flowers – historians question whether they really were forget-me-nots as many stories claimed.
In 1933 Warren Cuddy, a Republican, was Valdez District Attorney but politics changed that. He lost his job when the Democrats came to power. The family moved to Anchorage. He set up his law practice and she set about raising the boys. During the next few years, he purchased bank stock and by 1941 he had controlling interest and became the president of First National Bank.
World War II brought tragedy into their lives. Both her sons went off to war but only Dan came back. David was killed in action behind enemy lines in Anzio, Italy. “It was horrible,” Lucy Cuddy later recounted. “He was so against the war. But it was the war and it was your duty.”
Always a woman with lots of energy, she was a driving force in community affairs and helped organize the USO, the Girl Scouts of Anchorage, started the Nurses’ Aide program during WWII, helped found the Cook Inlet Historical Society and volunteered for the Red Cross, which she did most of her life.
She became a bank board member in 1949 and was elected to the office of board secretary. In 1951, upon her husband’s death of a heart attack at 65 years of age, son Dan took over the day-to-day banking, also serving as president, and Lucy Cuddy became chair of the board, a position she held until her death. It is said that she helped guide Alaska’s second-largest financial institution through booms and busts, earthquakes and floods, and expansion across the state.
In the same year she was appointed to the Board of Regents for the University of Alaska, 1956, she was named the chair of the Greater Anchorage United Fund Drive (now the United Way). She received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Arkansas in 1961, the third woman at the time to receive the honor. In 1972 the Anchorage campus community center of the University of Alaska was named Lucy Cuddy Hall.
In an article honoring her 90th birthday, the Anchorage Times says, “She is inseparable from this community. She inspires the best that dwells in the hearts of each us.” The same paper, two years later, in an article about her death called her “The Grand lady of Anchorage.”
Lucy Cuddy was laid to rest in the Anchorage Municipal Cemetery, Masonic Tract 9, Row 2, Lot 15.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/_70Dvlplz7w
- An interview with David Hayes, staff at First National Bank Alaska
- Anchorage Times, March 12, 1982, page 1 & 3
- We Alaskans, Anchorage Daily News Magazine, May 16, 1981, pages 7 & 13
- Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957
- Lucy Hon Cuddy Dedication, The Teller, 1982, page 1
- Lucy Cuddy papers, Archives & Special Collections Consortium Library, UAA, Collection number HMC-0095,
- In Memorial http://www.muni.org/Departments/health/cemetery/Pages/honored.aspx
Kathleen “Mike” Dalton is a seemingly tireless activist whose efforts have made waves since her arrival in Alaska from Arizona in 1949. Her six-year tenure in Barrow gave her an understanding of remote regions and those who live there. Residence in the Aleutians broadened her scope. As for Fairbanks, Dalton’s home base for more than half a century, she has played a major part in shaping its social, political and economic future as well as that of the state, while preserving a valuable part of our history.
Until the age of 10, Dalton was raised on a Navajo reservation in Arizona where her father worked. A carpenter and construction worker, he and her mother then moved their four children to Tucson where Catholic schooling was available. Following high school, Dalton graduated with a degree in English from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Then, to escape the heat and sun, she followed her friend and former schoolmate, Rosie Losonsky, to Alaska. There she took a job with Arctic Contractors and was introduced to the sport of dog mushing through the Libby Wescott Kennels.
Shortly after arriving, Mike met Jim Dalton, the son of Klondike gold rush legend Jack Dalton for whom the original Dalton Trail to Dawson was named, and married him in 1950. At the time, Jim owned nothing but a station wagon and a bean pot, but he was a brilliant engineer who played an integral part in developing the United States petroleum reserve on the North Slope and served as a contractor there for the Department of U.S. Navy in oil and gas exploration. The couple lived in the Inupiat village of Barrow for six years. Following the birth of son George in 1954 and daughter Libby in 1957, they bought 30 acres off Yankovich Road in the Fairbanks area and built a classic log house.
The problem was that Jim’s job kept him on the North Slope for weeks at a stretch, and Dalton found herself in the role of a single mother with two toddlers, living in the wilds a considerable distance from downtown Fairbanks. Despite this, she became active in her community with children in tow, although it was no small job. Just driving Yankovich Road on ice at 50 below zero today remains a challenge.
In the summer of 1962, Fairbanks pioneer Sylvia Ringstad asked Dalton to lick stamps and stuff envelopes for Republican candidates and the young mother joined the Republican Woman’s Club in which she now has 50 year tenure. As secretary of that organization she kept the records, dealt with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, raised funds and knocked on doors for an astonishing number of diverse candidates. She has created countless phone and “walking” lists, and collected thousands of email addresses which she still utilizes to keep members and the public informed. She has also participated in most of the party’s district and state conventions, while never attending the national event.
Over a ten year period as a reporter for The Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Dalton covered major stories like the 1964 central Alaska earthquake, the 1967 Fairbanks flood, and the oil discovery in Prudhoe Bay through the construction of the 500 mile haul road that opened it to industry. She also ran for a seat on the Fairbanks North Star Borough on its formation in 1964, becoming top vote getter and serving for five years.
“I remember her working all day, coming home, fixing dinner then leaving to town for assembly meetings,” daughter Libby recalls. “It happened a lot.”
Dalton went on to head Alaska’s office in Washington, D.C. under the Jay Hammond administration. Her job as Interior Alaska field office manager for U.S. Senator Ted Stevens ran from 1971 to 1978. In addition, she was on the staff of Sen. Jack Coghill when he served in the Alaska Legislature.
Dalton also managed to attend University of Alaska Fairbanks where she got a two-year degree in petroleum technology and studied Japanese. She followed up with a year at Middlebury College in Vermont for a Japanese program and then traveled to Japan three times on work-related issues.
Yet despite her demanding career and that of her husband, the Daltons were a tight family. Jim Dalton’s death in 1977 was a staggering blow, but by that time Mike was so used to doing heavy lifting on the home front, she kept the survivors afloat with little or no interruption to the many community assignments she shouldered and scant financial backing.
Dalton’s experience broadened in 1990-91 when she worked for the City of Unalaska helping organize the 50th commemoration of the bombing of Dutch Harbor and the Japanese occupation of Attu and Kiska Islands. In 1991 as the U.S.S.R. was collapsing, she helped organize and participated in the first American delegation visit to Russian Far East and Kamchatka Peninsula.
A dedicated member of the Alaska Pioneers, she has served has in every office including that of president of Women’s Igloo # 8 in 1997.
Dalton was one of the first non-Natives to be honored by the Fairbanks Native Association. Her support of early Native leaders played a key part in helping organize the Alaska Native land claims fight.
And, while she claims no expertise as a historian, she has managed to rescue sizable chunks of Alaska’s legacy that were imperiled. Typical is the time a Fairbanks News Miner editor, new to Alaska, moved all the newspaper’s World War II photo archives to a dumpster and Dalton, waiting until after dark, dived in, dusted them off, and preserved them. She was one of the first to record interviews with old-timers for the University of Alaska Archives. She was also responsible for returning to the state from California 24 painting by Sydney Laurence, Alaska’s most famous artist, and documenting the original owner’s colorful history.
Because she is as outspoken as she is enthusiastic on her political beliefs, many fail to recognize Dalton’s other outstanding community service, quiet charities, and often self-sacrificing contributions to the lives of others.
Few take their community duties as seriously as Dalton, especially at a grass roots level. Be it fund-raising to build a much-needed new hospital, capturing the neighbor’s straying dog, concern for ill-cared for muskox under early state stewardship or just showing up daily for the long trial of a good friend thought to be unjustly charged, Dalton has always made the time to be there.
She won’t just bring her prized oatmeal cookies to the benefit for an old-timer. She’ll transport the old-timer, too, if he or she doesn’t have a ride, even if that old-timer lives 50 miles out of town over a nasty dirt road. It’s safe to bet that more Fairbanks people have memorized Dalton’s phone number, than any other private number you can name.
Dalton has a knack of surreptitiously supporting newcomers to the Alaska who are troubled by its bumpy road to survival. Quicker than most to notice those in need, she provides assistance so gracefully that often those at risk do not realize the depth of her charity or feel any embarrassment in accepting it.
And, shunning recognition, Dalton has always been quick to help fill needs when government fails. Who else each spring would recruit family and ever-present house guests to help jack-up remote road culverts that have been squashed by winter traffic so that they would not dam the spring break-up to overflow, flooding the lowlands?
Dalton is not focused simply on Alaska, but remains current on national issues, too. After the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1995, she planted two young spruce trees in her yard in their honor. Recently Nicole’s family heard about the Alaskan memorial and expressed their appreciation for the far north commemoration. Those trees are full grown now, and so are Dalton’s interests in women’s rights and many other national concerns.
While many who have track records similar to Dalton’s political involvement have sought office for themselves or personal glory, Dalton has preferred to work behind the scenes on behalf of others. She is an award winning member of the Alaska Outdoor Council and has been named Republican Woman of the Year, but she is so adamant about self-aggrandizement she refused to attend any event honoring her 90th birthday and did so only when others were honored for their community involvement at the same time.
Because of her broad experience in rough and remote country, many—especially young women—have looked to Dalton for advice. And, although she is outspoken on her political beliefs, her discretion in personal matters have long make her an excellent confidant, which might well be her greatest claim to this honor.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/zMhAhzotVnI
Marie Darlin demonstrates what an individual can achieve in a lifetime — in her case more than 89 years. City and Borough of Juneau Mayor Merrill Sanford said as he presented a proclamation honoring her in 2013, Marie’s “volunteering in organizations that make Juneau and the entire state of Alaska better places to live make her an exemplary model for all citizens to follow” (KTOO, June 27, 2013).
Darlin was born in 1925 and has been a lifelong resident of Juneau. Her maternal grandparents came from Finland to Oregon in the 1880s and moved to Juneau in 1894. Darlin graduated from Juneau High School in 1943 and married Kenneth Wingate in 1944. They had two children, and then she was widowed in 1952. She married Bill Darlin in 1953 and he died in 1984. They owned Triangle Cleaners. Darlin worked more than 30 years in human resource management for the federal, territorial/state and local governments. For 18 years she worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs promoting education, economic and quality of life improvements for rural Alaska and as the training officer for the Juneau Area.
The years Darlin was raising her two daughters (Sue Nielsen and Jean Eichman) she was active with the PTA and then served two terms on the Juneau School Board, including serving as president. In 1975 she was appointed to the Juneau Community College Advisory Committee and was president of it for a term and a member until 1983.
After retiring in 1983, Darlin continued her career as a volunteer. She said she was busier and worked harder than ever. In 1985 she led the group starting a Juneau chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employee, and followed this with starting an Alaska federation of chapters and serving four years as its president. In 1987 she became the spokesperson for the AARP’s Women’s Initiative and worked five years on issues affecting midlife and older women.
After serving nine years on the state Alaska Medical Care Advisory Committee, Darlin was appointed to the Alaska Commission on Aging in 2010. She has been instrumental in getting the State of Alaska to enact a missing vulnerable adult response plan and senior citizen protections and to extend the Alaska Health Care Commission. Darlin is an effective advocate because she prepares in advance, attends hearings, speaks up, and follows up with personal visits to legislators. For years every Alaska state legislator has known Darlin by name. At a committee meeting in 2013 Senator Bert Stedman would not hold a vote on a piece of legislation until he had heard from her about it.
Local and state historical societies and museums also are very important to Darlin, and they have benefitted from her volunteer work. For the Juneau-Douglas City Museum she leads walking tours of historic places in downtown Juneau and answers questions at the front desk of the museum. She is a member of the City and Borough of Juneau’s Historic Preservation Commission and serves as program chair for the Gastineau Channel Historical Society. For the statewide Alaska Historical Society, Darlin started the local societies group and served on the organization’s board of directors. Darlin was one of the steadfast leaders who advocated for 10 years acquiring property and securing funding for a much-needed state libraries archives and museums center in Juneau expected to open in 2016. She saw the need for a building to securely conserve the state’s records, historical photographs, manuscripts and business records, and museum artifacts, with exhibit and research spaces for the public to see and use the materials.
As a member of the Juneau Igloo #6 of the Pioneers of Alaska, Darlin co-edited its three-volume Gastineau Channel Memories and its predecessor Gold Rush Pioneers of the Juneau-Douglas Area. She also co-authored a book about Juneau’s schools that recounts experiences of teachers who worked in them between the 1930s and 1950s for the Juneau Retired Teachers Association. She served as a member of Juneau’s “Empty Chair Project” that in 2014 established a memorial to recognize the Japanese moved from Juneau to internment camps during World War II.
In 1996 Marie received a First Lady’s Volunteer Award, and in 2002 a Lifetime Service Award from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. She has received the Federal Women Employee of the Year Award. Darlin received Alaska’s AARP Andrus Award for Community Service, the organization’s most prestigious and visible volunteer award, in 2008. The City and Borough of Juneau passed a proclamation recognizing Darlin in 2013 for her tireless advocacy. In 2014 she received the Alaska Historical Society’s Evangeline Atwood Award for her significant long-term contributions to saving, celebrating and advocating for Alaska history broadly and for Juneau history specifically.
Darlin’s 30-year volunteer career, with an emphasis on the interests of seniors and the importance of preserving Alaska’s past, has benefitted Alaska. She continues to be an inspiration to the people who have worked with her, and has helped many of them learn to effectively advocate for important social and cultural issues. She has made a difference in the lives of many other.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/R6XTQAbzlS0
Nora Marks Dauenhauer has devoted her life to studying, translating, and writing books about the Tlingit language and Tlingit oral history. She is internationally recognized for her fieldwork, transcription, translation, and explication of Tlingit stories and literature. She has also written numerous poems and plays. She served as Principal Researcher, Language and Cultural Studies, at the Sealaska Heritage Foundation for fourteen years, and has written ten books and many articles about Tlingit language. She has taught generations of Tlingit people about their language, their stories and their culture.
She is married to Richard Dauenhauer, writer and linguist, with whom she has co-authored and co-edited several editions of Tlingit language and folklore material. Nora has 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great grandchildren and is semi-retired, but she continues with research, writing, consulting, and volunteer work with schools and community.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/iVYkFc2r0e4
When she retired as a Social Worker in 1986, Bettye Davis moved on to a second career in government. She served as a member of the Anchorage School Board from 1982-1989, and 1998-1999. She was a State Representative from 1990-1996, Chair of the State Board of Education from 1998-1999, and then became the first African-American to be elected as a State Senator in 2000. Born in Homer, Louisiana, she obtained a certificate in nursing in 1961 and a Bachelor of Social Work in 1972. She moved to Anchorage in 1973. She is a member of many organizations, including the Alaska Black Leadership Conference, Church Women United, Common Ground, NAACP, League of Women Voters, the Delta Sigma Theta, and the Zonta Club of Anchorage. She has served on numerous legislative committees, including serving as the Vice Chair of the Education Committee and the Chair of the Health, Education and Social Services Committee.
The numerous bills she has sponsored show her concern for these areas. She is also a member of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group and sponsor of Senate Bill 69 which calls for the reinstatement of the Commission on the Status of Women. “Alaska with its unique culture, history, and challenges combined with its large size and small population, calls for innovative forward thinking to deal with many of the difficult issues facing Alaskan women and their families. The creation of a Commission on the Status of Women will once again focus the attention of Alaskans on these critical issues.”
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/7GlVj46S28s
Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna was the first of two children born to Grace and Theodore de Laguna. Her formative years were spent in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where her doting, devoted father provided her education at home until age nine. He regaled “Freddy” with the delights of distant people, places, and languages. During his visits to Japan and the Philippines, he had become intrigued with linguistics and translated and wrote songs in a dialect of the Pilipino language. Freddy thrived on his stories.
Freddy’s parents were professors of philosophy at Bryn Mawr College (BMC). Reading and critical thinking were elemental in the family. Adventure and travel stories were favorites and Freddy immersed herself in the literature of the North, especially inspired by narratives of famous European explorers such as Knud Rasmussen, Peter Freuchen, Therkel Mathiassen, and Kai Birket-Smith. Freddy occasionally acted upon what she read. Catharine McClellan, a student and later collaborator with Freddy during her Alaskan studies, wrote that Freddy sent Commander Donald MacMillian, who made over 30 expeditions to the Arctic, a letter in which she offered to chew his boots if he would take her on his next expedition. Not only did books transport her to tantalizing lands of adventure, but, possibly, they provided solace during the many illnesses that plagued her childhood.
In this family of educators one can almost imagine the stimulating conversations, probing questions, and challenging responses between Theodore, Grace, and resident and visiting philosophers; and, on the sideline, young Freddy listening, learning, and developing critical and analytical thinking skills. These abilities provided a solid foundation for her future and the academic career that awaited her.
Freddy entered Bryn Mawr College in 1923, planning to major in economics and psychology, yet health problems caused her to drop the psychology major and, she discovered, economics was not compelling. She struggled to find a career that combined her love of the outdoors, of adventure, of foreign cultures, and of travel with sufficient mental challenges and excitement.
In 1927 Freddy graduated summa cum laude from BMC yet a career eluded her. Although she had won a European Fellowship, she delayed the trip at her parents’ suggestion. They had heard Franz Boas lecture about anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and thought that Freddy, too, might find him stimulating. She did and entered Columbia University in 1928 to study under him. At that time, Boas was one of the foremost influential anthropologists in America.
Boas didn’t disappoint. Slowly Freddy moved toward anthropology and, that same year, after activating the European Fellowship, joined the American School of Prehistoric Research field party, traveling widely and meeting leading anthropologists on the Continent. At Boas’ suggestion, she visited Copenhagen to view a collection of Eskimo artifacts at the Danish National Museum. There she met Therkel Mathiassen and Kaj Birket-Smith, Danish anthropologists famous for their explorations with the Fifth Thule Expedition. Meeting them changed her life.
Mathiassen was preparing an archaeological reconnaissance trip to Greenland and invited Freddy to join him. What was to last six weeks lasted six months and Freddy found her calling. She wrote in Voyage to Greenland. . . . “Unexpectedly, the trip led on to a great voyage across the North Atlantic to Arctic Greenland. But more important, it was a journey into a new life, and for me a new way of looking at the world. Having once set foot in Greenland. . . , I could not turn aside from that long journey or that vocation, even though I had to give up the man I loved.” (Freddy broke her engagement and never did marry.)
So into the male-dominated discipline of American anthropology came Freddy in 1930 and until the end of her formal field research in Alaska in 1968, she was quite often the pioneer archaeologist in a region, and certainly, the pioneer female archaeologist. As a woman, she was able to interview Native women and record their stories, a privilege seldom available to male anthropologists at that time.
In 1930 Kaj Birket-Smith, the Danish anthropologist whom she had met in Copenhagen, was to co-lead an expedition, with Freddy, to Prince William Sound yet illness prevented him from doing so at the last minute. With support from the University Museum in Philadelphia, Freddy came north without him, conducting her first independent archaeological field expedition. She was 24 years old.
It was a question and the search for its answer that brought her to Cook Inlet. At the University Museum, Philadelphia, where she worked as a curator, Freddy had seen a stone lamp and believed it to be of Eskimo-origin, not of Dena’ina Athabaskan Indian origin as believed. In the 1930s, the Dena’ina occupied most of the Cook Inlet coast, although Eskimo Alutiiq people lived in the villages of Port Graham and English Bay (today Nanwalek), near the mouth of Cook Inlet. Had an Eskimoid people preceded the Dena’ina on inlet shores? Dr. Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology, Kenai Peninsula College, Soldotna, states that Freddy was one of the first problem-oriented archaeologists.
As a student of Boas, she had learned that a holistic approach to anthropology was paramount–don’t just study the people, study their environment, their food, their transportation, their games, everything that contributes to the creation of their unique culture. And, document it well with photographs. Freddy followed his advice as evidenced in her many publications of Alaska’s peoples.
As Freddy’s skills in anthropology developed, so too did her skills in photography. Many publications are beautifully illustrated with her images. Because Freddy felt strongly that all people should be able to benefit from her Alaskan photographs, taken between 1932 and 1968, she willed them to the Alaska State Library in Juneau. Co-author Klein spent eight months with Freddy at Bryn Mawr College, compiling, chronologically organizing, labeling, and preserving, in archival materials, 4000 photographs.
From Prince William Sound Freddy traveled to Anchorage where, during the summers of 1930, 1931, and 1932, she surveyed the shores of Cook Inlet in a little gas boat, the Dime, run by Jack Fields, a Seldovian, who boated her to many archaeological sites, particularly in Kachemak Bay. Her family provided some financial support and her brother, Wallace, and mother, Grace, joined her as field assistants for several years in Kachemak Bay and Prince William Sound. Tragically, her father died unexpectedly in September 1930, as Freddy learned when returning from Alaska to Pennsylvania.
After obtaining her PhD at Columbia in 1933, Freddy returned to Bryn Mawr and for the next 40 years taught anthropology classes. From 1950-1966 she co-created and chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, which became the Department of Anthropology in 1967. Mandatory retirement in 1975 ended her formal teaching career but not her passions for learning, writing, exploring. Her zest for life persisted throughout her 98 years.
World War II refocused Freddy’s life temporarily. In 1942 she joined the military, hoping for an overseas appointment. Disappointingly, she was posted to Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. where she worked at the Alaskan desk for a while. At war’s end, as a lieutenant commander, she left the service yet retained an active interest in naval history.
After the brief hiatus in the Navy, Freddy returned to Bryn Mawr College and teaching. She taught during the academic year and, as often as possible, spent summers in the field. Her professional field work in Alaska, albeit sporadic, spanned 1930 to 1968. While participating in field research in Arizona, she also developed a passion for Southwest peoples and their cultures.
After mandatory retirement from BMC in 1975, Freddy continued learning and teaching through her writings and her lectures. When traveling, she often sought knowledge of the indigenous peoples of her destination. Her travels brought her back to Yukon Island in Kachemak Bay 48 years after her initial visit and to Greenland and Denmark 50 years after her initial visits there. When interviewed by co-author Klein in 1992, Dr. William Workman, then professor of anthropology, University of Alaska Anchorage, said, “Without question, she is one of the most distinguished living North American anthropologists.
Although her passion for the arctic lured her away from Bryn Mawr, she resided there from shortly after her birth in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1906. When an apartment became available in Haverford, near Bryn Mawr, Freddy moved in and resided there until her death on October 4, 2004, the day after her 98th birthday. She died in her sleep at home in her apartment. Before she went to bed, she told her friend and fellow anthropologist, Dr. Marie-Francoise Guedon, that she wanted to write a book about the many animals she knew and loved.
Freddy was a member of several environmental organizations and practiced basic conservation in her life, such as carrying groceries in canvas tote bags long before such bags were in vogue. When 89 years old, she was still swimming numerous times a week and ate three full meals a day, preferably one as a picnic, if nothing more than sitting on a bench outside of the anthropology building on campus, enjoying sunshine, bird song, and company.
Freddy’s life-long passion and fascination with northern peoples never diminished. She was compelled to convert her abundant field notes and photographs into publications, to preserve the stories of the cultures she had studied. To that end, before her death Freddy created a scholarly press, Frederica de Laguna Northern Books. Marie-Francoise Guedon, fellow anthropologist, former field collaborator, and executor of her estate, was tasked with maintaining the press and issuing books, when possible. The first release after Freddy’s death was a new edition of her three volume masterpiece, Under Mount Saint Elias: the History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit, long out-of-print. The next publication, which Freddy and Marie-Francoise were writing at the time of her death, was to be about the Ahtna people of Copper Center.
The awards and honors bestowed upon Freddy are too many to recount. Most meaningful to her were those from the Native Alaskans with whom she had worked. During her studies in Yakutat in 1949 and the early 1950s, she was invited and greatly honored to share the Tlingit name of Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaac: Kuxanguwutan. Like her father, Freddy had an innate talent for languages and in 1952, she tape recorded songs of the Yakutat people, inadvertently stimulating renewed interest and pride in Tlingit music. When she returned to Yakutat in 1954, she composed a song for the people in their language. It was remembered and sung at a potlatch 32 years later which Freddy attended as a revered elder and guest. She was also recognized as one “who had written a big book about Yakutat.”
Awards from her colleagues were also important. She served many positions, including that of president, with the American Anthropological Association, was one of the first Fellows of the Arctic Institute of North America, and was selected in 1975 to be one of the first female inductees into the National Academy of Sciences, along with Margaret Meade.
Her active inquiring mind, developed and nurtured in an academic environment with strong family support, appears to have sustained this vital woman who contributed so very much to the world of anthropology, most especially, to Alaskan anthropology. Two years after her passing, the distinguished international scholarly journal, ARCTIC ANTHROPOLOGY, honored Freddy’s life-long achievements in northern environments with an issue devoted solely to her. Even after death, Freddy’s legacy lives on. Like her parents, she willed her remains to science.
Each of Freddy’s major explorations in Alaska resulted in a book or in the writing of the preliminary papers that, eventually, would result in a book. By 1989 Freddy had published more than 100 papers and book reviews. The following publications provide a rough timeline of her travels and archaeological or ethnological field research in Alaska.
Expedition: summers 1930-1932, explorations briefly in Prince William Sound and then throughout coastal Cook Inlet, most especially Kachemak Bay where she discovered, described, and named the Kachemak Culture, today the Kachemak tradition.
De Laguna, Frederica
1934 The Archaeology of Cook Inlet, Alaska. University of Pennsylvania Press for the University Museum.
1975 Reprinted by Alaska Historical Society, Anchorage.
1930 exploration of Prince William Sound with her brother, Wallace. 1933 with Danish anthropologist, Kaj Birket-Smith.
Birket-Smith, Kaj and de Laguna, Frederica
1956 Chugach Prehistory, The Archaeology of Prince William Sound, Alaska.
Birket-Smith, Kaj and de Laguna, Frederica
1938 The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska
Expedition: built boats near Nenana and ran the middle Yukon River in 1935.
De Laguna, Frederica
1947 The Prehistory of Northern North America As Seen from the Yukon.
Expedition: worked with the Yakutat Tlingit in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954 often joined by Catharine McClellan.
1972 Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit. 3 volumes.
Expedition: 1954, 1958, 1960. Studies of the Copper River Ahtna with Catharine McClellan.
De Laguna, Frederica and Catharine McClellan
1981 ”Ahtna,” Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6, Subarctic.
Emmons, George Thorton. De Laguna editor and contributor
1991 The Tlingit Indians.
ARCTIC ANTHROPOLOGY, Vol. 43, No. 2. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. NOTES: compilation of articles dedicated to Frederica de Laguna.
De Laguna, Frederica. Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. 1977. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.
Klein, Janet R., compiler. Frederica de Laguna, A Summary of Her Life and Her Work. For the Alaska Humanities Forum, Anchorage. Unpublished. NOTES: timelines of her personal and her professional life; biographical sketches; select bibliography; photographs.
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/ZYEiLa3i7-E