Published Date

August 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

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

Alaska is our last geographical frontier. War, out of strategic necessity, has made Americans conscious of this United States outpost as nothing has since the Yukon gold rush nearly fifty years ago. Many vigorous young men and women are wondering what this vast area is like. What kinds of opportunities will it offer after this war is over?

This pamphlet is packed with facts and figures about Alaskan climate, geography, agriculture, and industry. These facts afford an excellent basis for forums or discussions on at least three major questions. The three are listed here together with other questions that naturally come to mind in connection with them:



What Has Alaska to Offer Postwar Pioneers?

In what ways does Alaska resemble the Western frontier of, say, 1850? In what ways is it different? Will the development of Alaska in the next century parallel the development of the West in the last?

Has the frontier a vital contribution to make to present-day American living?

What do you consider of greatest importance in Alaska today: The dollar-and-cents value of its fish, minerals, and other resources? Its strategic and military defense role? Its position on world airways? Its possibilities as a vacationland and recreation area? Its possibilities as a migration area for settlers from the States and Europe? Others?


How Should Alaska Be Developed after the War?

Should Alaska be developed to the full by modern industry and agriculture, or should it be left as a source of fish and minerals and as a national playground?

Should Army equipment remaining in Alaska be turned over to the Territory for roadmaking, clearing of farmland, and similar tasks?

Should permanent military installations be kept in Alaska?

Should the Alaska Highway be developed for pleasure and commercial freight traffic, or should it remain a military service road only?

Would a railroad overland into Alaska be worth its cost in dollars and manpower?

What should the role of the Alaska native be in the development of the Territory? Should Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos be accorded the same economic and political privileges as white Alaskans?


What Is Likely to Be Alaska’s Political Development in the Future?

Should Alaska be given statehood? What effect would this have on its development? On the exploitation of its resources?

Should Alaskans elect their governor and other Territorial officials? Should Congress continue to exercise a veto power over Territorial legislation?

What should be the policy of Alaska toward immigration after the war?

What should be the relation of Alaska to its neighbors, USSR and the Canadian Northwest?

If you wish to do so, you might organize one meeting on each of the major questions. Or still another question may suggest itself to you as more likely to interest your group. Perhaps future political development for Alaska will be less interesting to your members than the possibilities for industrial development or for personal opportunities. In planning a meeting or meetings on Alaska you should of course be guided by what your men would like to discuss.

Use EM 1, G.I. Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders. It was planned to be full of practical suggestions on choosing subjects, on promoting off-duty discussion, on using charts, maps, movies and other visual aids, and on other matters pertaining to a discussion group program. Almost any meeting which you may plan on Alaska will require a wall map of the area. If such a map is not available, have some G.I. artist draw a rough outline of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands on a sheet of paper about 4 by 6 feet. (If large sheets of paper are not available, such a map can be prepared in two or four sections and the sections mounted on a wall or a large board with tacks.) Have the main features likely to be valuable for your discussion printed on the outline as shown in the map opposite page 1 of this pamphlet. This map might also indicate the products and industries of the various regions: agriculture, gold, fur farming, trapping, salmon, tourists, etc.

It is suggested that the map will be more effective if a color scheme, using crayon or ink, is used: red for the regions, black for geographical features, and green for products and industries. A more elaborate color scheme could be developed by breaking the geographical features down into parts. You can use the colors for printing the names or for underlining names printed in black.

Make copies of this pamphlet available for reading by your group members. You can place pamphlets on a loan basis in the library, service club, or day room. Some reading by members in advance of discussion is always helpful even if only a few take advantage of the opportunity.

Publications on the following pages are suggested for further reading if it so happens that you have access to them. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They have been selected because they give additional information and represent different points of view.


Books about Alaska and the North

Pocket Guide to Alaska. Prepared by the Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, United States Army, in cooperation with the Office of Strategic Services. War and Navy Departments, Washington, D.C. (1943). A brief account of Alaska for the use of servicemen stationed there. (Not for sale.)

Answers to Questions by Servicemen about Land Settlement in Alaska. Prepared by General Land Office, United States Department of the Interior (1944).

General Information, Territory of Alaska. Prepared by Division of Territories and Island Possessions, United States Department of the Interior (1944).

Alaska: Information Relative to the Disposal and Leasing of Public Lands in Alaska. Prepared by General Land Office, United States Department of the Interior (1944).

Agriculture in the Matanuska Valley. By Herbert C. Hanson. Prepared by Division of Territories and Island Possessions. United States Department of the Interior (1943).

The above four folders, free on application to the United States Department of the Interior, Washington 25, D. C., contain much useful and authoritative information.

Alaska Natives. By Hobson D. Anderson and Walter C. Eells. Published by Stanford University Press, Stanford University, California (1.935). A sound and detailed discussion.

Lord of Alaska. By Hector Chevigny. Published by Viking Press, 18 East 48th Street. New York 17, N. Y. (1942). Biography of Baranov, governor of Russian Alaska.

Alaska: The Last Frontier. By Henry W. Clark. Published by Grosset and Dunlap, 1107 Broadway, New York 10, N. Y. (1939). A good brief popular history.

Road to Alaska. By Douglas Coe. Published by Julian Messner, 8 West 40th Street, New York 18, N. Y. (1944). A well-illustrated narrative of the construction of the Alaska Highway, written for children, but of interest to adults.

Guide to Alaska. Last American Frontier. By Merle Colby. Published by Macmillan Company, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, N. Y. (1939). A Federal Writers’ Project. The standard guide to Alaska.

War Discovers Alaska. By Joseph Driscoll. Published by J. B. Lippincott Company, 227 South 6th Street, Philadelphia 5, Pa. (1944).

Our Hidden Front. By William Gilman. Published by Reynal and Hitchcock, 386 Fourth Avenue, New York 16, N. Y. (1944).

Bridge to Victory. By Howard Handleman. Published by Random House, 20 East 57th Street. New York 22. N. Y. (1943). These three volumes are accounts of the present war in Alaska. The last two are mainly concerned with the Aleutian campaign.

Alaska Comes of Age. By Julius C. Edelstein. No. 8 of Far Eastern Pamphlets, published by Institute of Pacific Relations. 1 East 54th Street, New York 22, N. Y. (1942).

Canada Moves North. By Richard Finnie. Published by Macmillan Company, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, N. Y. (1942). An excellent discussion of the Canadian Northwest.

Journey through the Fog. By Cornelia Goodhue. Published by Doubleday, Doran and Company, Garden City, N. Y. (1944). A narrative of Bering’s explorations.

Alaska and the Canadian Northwest: Our New Frontier. By Harold Griffin. Published by W. W. Norton and Company, 70 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. (1944).

I Went to the Soviet Arctic. By Ruth Gruber. Published by Viking Press, 18 East 48th Street. New York 17, N. Y. (1944). Interesting account of Russian advances in the Soviet Arctic regions. New edition with new material.

Alaska Diary, 1926–1931. By Ales Hrdlicka. Published with the permission of the Smithsonian Institution by Jaques Cattell Press. Lancaster, Pa. (1943). The travel diary of a noted scholar and anthropologist.

U. S.-Canadian Northwest: A Demonstration Area for International Postwar Planning and Development. By Benjamin H. Kizer. Published in cooperation with the American Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, by the Princeton University Press. Princeton, N. J. (1943). Contains much valuable material on the postwar development of Alaska and the Canadian Northwest.

Alaska: Its Resources and Development. Prepared by the National Resources Committee. Printed at the Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. (1938). A rather full discussion, by specialists, of the resources of Alaska.

Here Is Alaska. By Evelyn Stefansson. Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 597 Fifth Avenue, New York 23, N. Y. (1943). A lively entertaining popular account, well illustrated.

Arctic Manual. By Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Published by Macmillan Company, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York 11, N. Y. (1944). A handbook to the Arctic regions.

The Northward Course of Empire. By Vilhjalmur Stefansson. Published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, 383 Madison Avenue, New York 17, N. Y. (1922). A discussion of the role of the North in modern civilization.

Alaska, America’s Continental Frontier Outpost. By Ernest P. Walker. No. 13 of War Background Studies published by Smithsonian Institution, Washington 25, D. C. (1943). An authoritative account of Alaska’s geography, resources, and people, with an excellent discussion of the strategic importance of the Territory.

Various Alaska Chambers of Commerce, the Alaska Game Commission, the Alaska Road Commission, and other Alaskan agencies frequently publish material of interest to visitors or prospective settlers, available on request.

Most federal departments which are concerned with Alaska have published important material concerning Alaskan resources and development. These include the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Geological Survey, the Office of Education, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Alaska Railroad—all in the United States Department of the Interior; the Office of Experiment Stations and the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, and others. A list of government publications relating to Alaska is available from the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C. The Annual Report of the Governor of Alaska, obtainable from the Division of Territories and Island Possessions, United States Department of the Interior, contains valuable material. Useful to those interested in Alaska’s future is the Alaska Development Plan, issued by the Alaska Planning Council, Juneau. Alaska (1941).