“Eight stars of gold on a field of blue…” was the basis of a design submitted by a 13-year-old Aleut boy from Seward in the 1927 contest to design a flag for the territory of Alaska. Benny Benson’s story is told in the Sept-Oct, 2019 issue of Alaskan History Magazine, and several of the competing designs from the contest are also displayed.
Also included is a bit of related history, the Alaska’s Flag poem by Marie Drake, set to music composed by Elinor Dusenbury, and how it became Alaska’s state song. Benny’s design was adopted by the Alaska Territorial Legislature in May, 1927. He was awarded a gold watch engraved with his flag design, and $1,000, equal to about $15,000 today, to apply to his education. Benny’s description submitted with his design explained: “The blue field is for the Alaska Sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower. The North Star is for the future of Alaska, the most northerly in the union. The Dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”
Benny applied his monetary awarder the flag design toward schooling in diesel mechanics in Seattle. He married, returned to Alaska, and made his home in Kodiak, where he raised two daughters and worked as a master carpenter and an airplane mechanic for Kodiak Airways. He died of a heart attack in 1972.
Sept-Oct, 2019 issue, Vol. 1, No. 3, postpaid
The sled dog artwork of Josephine Crumrine, the luxury cruise of railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman and his carefully selected passenger list of scientists and artists, the importance of a key player in Alaska’s history: the sea otter, and the story of the SS Nenana, the Last Lady of the River. Also the history of Alaska’s flag, and an excerpt from Josiah E. Spurr’s 1896 expedition to the Birch Creek Mining District.