Published Date

August 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 20: What Has Alaska to Offer Postwar Pioneers? (1944)

For years after the purchase, Alaska struggled along under the nominal jurisdiction of the United States Army, with little or no government of its own. Conditions were so bad as to evoke Kipling’s line, “There’s never law of God or man runs north of 53.” During the 1898 gold rush conditions became so serious that miners took matters into their own hands and organized “miners’ meetings,” which dealt out rough justice, usually banishment or the death penalty, on the spot.

Finally, in 1899 and 1900, Congress enacted a civil and criminal code for Alaska. In 1912 Congress passed the Organic Act creating the Territory, and the capital was moved from the old Russian site of Sitka to Juneau.

Today, Alaska is an organized Territory with ambitions for statehood. The Alaska Legislature, which meets for 60 days every other year, consists of 16 senators and 24 representatives. Alaska elects a delegate to Congress who can speak in the House, sponsor bills, and serve on committees, but has no vote. The governor, whose term is four years, is appointed by the president, and Congress may disapprove any acts passed by the Legislature. United States commissioners serve as justices of the peace and probate judges in most communities.

The federal government exercises close control over Alaska’s fish, forests, fur animals and other wild life, minerals, and native population, and owns over 90 per cent of all land in Alaska.

Wherever you served in this war, or wherever you are serving—in Alaska, in the States, on a lonely atoll in the South Pacific, or in the European theater—this book is intended to give you a glimpse of Alaska’s future and what it has to offer after the war.

The pictures that follow show a little of the surprising variety of our last frontier—hot springs bubbling out of snow-covered ground; Eskimos dancing to the latest jive tunes; stretches of lonely landscape rarely visited by human beings; the sun shining brightly at 10 p.m.; an Alaska street scene; a remote Eskimo reindeer roundup; the quaint spire of the Russian-built church in the old capital of Sitka; King Island Eskimos summering under their upturned boat at Nome; fishermen; a gold prospector; a soldier slogging his way through Alaskan mud; Ketchikan, first port of call in Alaska; a trapper’s cabin in the wilderness.

Next section: How Do Alaskans Make a Living?