The Alaska State Flag
After its purchase by the United States from Russia in 1867, Alaska adopted the USA flag as its own flag. Before the year 1927, Alaska did not have a flag. At this time, Alaska was still a territory controlled by the federal government and Alaska's citizens did not enjoy voting rights in the Congress. The Alaska flag was adopted in May 1927. When Alaska became a state in 1959 it retained the design of the flag.
Description of the Alaska Flag
The Alaska State flag consists of a blue field with eight golden stars. The color blue symbolizes the sky, the sea, and the mountain lakes. The blue also symbolizes Alaska's wildflowers. Of the eight golden stars, seven are from the Ursa Major constellation, also referred to as the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper constellation serves as a symbol of strength. The eighth star, which is bigger in size, represents the North Star. The North Star or the Polaris symbolizes the north most state. It symbolizes Alaska's northern location. The North Star also serves as the ever-constant star that guides mariners, explorers, hunters, and tappers.
History of Alaska State Flag
By the year 1926, Governor George Parks was advocating for statehood for Alaska. He made a trip to Washington D.C. In Washington, George saw the flags of forty-eight states flying. George Parks urged the Alaska American Legion to hold an open contest for all children from grades 7 to 12 to design a flag for Alaska. The deadline for submitting the designs was March 1, 1927. By this deadline, a total of 142 flag designs were selected for consideration from over 700 submissions.
Benny Benson, who was in seventh grade at a territorial school in Seward, won the contest. Benny was born in Chignik on the south shore of the Alaskan peninsula. A panel of judges gave Benny's design a unanimous win. By the month of May 1927, the two houses of territorial legislature adopted the flag design. While submitting his design, Benny had written some words explaining the design. He stated that the blue field represented Alaska sky and the forget me not, a popular flower in Alaska. The North Star represented the future of the state of Alaska, the northernmost state in the Union. The dipper represented the Great Bear, a symbol of strength. On July 9, 1927, the flag was flown for the first time.
Benny Benson received an award consisting of a watch bearing the flag emblem. He also received an educational scholarship worth $1,000. When Alaska became a state in 1959, it retained Benny's flag design. The symbolism of Alaska state flag is well outlined in the state song, 'Alaska Flag'.
The Russian-American Company Flag
The Russian-American Company (RAC) governed Alaska between the years 1799 and 1867. RAC was a state-sponsored commercial company. The company had its headquarters in Irkutsk. The headquarters later moved to St. Petersburg in Russia. The RAC flag featured an Imperial eagle that carried a scroll, which read in abbreviated form; 'Russian American Company's'. Until October 18, 1867, the RAC flag flew over Alaska. It ceased to fly when the United States bought off all the Russian-American Company holdings in Alaska.