Famous Alaskans

Famous Alaskans

Here is a short list of Alaskans with a certain amount of notoriety---both good and bad---from the past and present. 

Molly Hootch and Anna Tibeluk Prior to 1976, many rural Native villages in Alaska lacked educational facilities beyond the 8th grade. Students who wished to attend high school were forced to fly long distances and live nine months of the year away from their homes. In 1972, a number of Native students joined together in a suit against the State of Alaska to provide high schools in over 100 Native villages. While the case is officially named Tibeluk v. Lind, for the Eskimo girl who joined the list of plaintiffs in 1975, it is commonly referred to as the Molly Hootch case for the student who headed the original list of plaintiffs. In 1976, the court ruled in the plaintiffs' favor and 126 villages were granted high schools. This case revolutionized education in Native Alaskan villages.
Howard Rock

An Inupiat Eskimo, Howard Rock was born in Point Hope, Alaska where he learned the subsistence lifestyle of his ancestors and became an activist for his people. He helped prevent the Atomic Energy Commission from performing above-ground nuclear tests in a harbor near his village, edited the Tundra Times, and helped lead the Native land claims struggle which led to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Elizabeth Peratrovich Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich was born July 4, 1911, in Petersburg, Alaska. Her Tlingit name was Kaaxgal.aat. As Grand Camp President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, Elizabeth provided the crucial testimony that cultivated passage of the Anti Discrimination Bill. The Senate passed the bill, which mandated equal treatment for all citizens in public accommodations, 11 to 5. A new era in Alaska's racial relations had begun. Elizabeth Peratrovich died on December 1, 1958, after a lengthy battle with cancer. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Juneau.
Jefferson "Soapy"
C. Smith
Soapy arrived in the Gold Rush frontier town of Skagway in the autumn of 1897. Soapy and his gang fleeced newcomers at crooked gambling or at gunpoint. In 1898, a shooting in Skagway resulted in the death of Smith, who is buried there.
Big Mike Heney Without technical education, Michael James Heney built two railroads, the White Pass and Yukon Route and the Copper River and Northwestern, considered impossible by leading engineers of his day.
Ernest Gruening Ernest Gruening was territorial governor of Alaska in 1935-1953 and territorial senator in 1956-58. As governor, Gruening formed the Alaska Territorial Guard during WWII to alert the military of potential Japanese attacks from isolated areas like the Bering Sea. The guard was made up primarily of Alaska Natives from rural villages. As territorial senator, Gruening lobbied for Alaska statehood in Washington, D.C. and, following statehood, became a U.S. senator from 1958 to 1968. Gruening was an outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Benny Benson Thirteen-year-old Benny Benson's fame comes from designing the Alaska flag. Born in Chignik and raised in Unalaska. Benny was the winner of the contest conducted for Alaska students in grades seven through twelve in 1926. The Alaska Legislature adopted his design as the official flag for the Territory of Alaska on May 2, 1927. Later, the drafters of the Alaska constitution stipulated that the territorial flag would become the official flag of the State of Alaska.
Libby Riddles Libby Riddles was the first woman to win the "Last Great Race on Earth," the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in 1985. At 29 years, Riddles turned in a time of 18 days, 2 minutes, 17 seconds on the route from Anchorage to Nome.
Susan Butcher The only woman to win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race three consecutive years---placing first in 1986, 1987, and 1988. In 1988, a T-shirt appeared in Alaska which read, "Alaska: Where Men are Men and Women Win the Iditarod!"
Joe Reddington, Sr. Joe Reddington Sr. pioneered modern distance mushing and is considered the Father of the Iditarod. He created the event in 1973 and funded it in its first year.
Hilary Lindh Born in Juneau, Hilary Lindh is a five-time U.S. National Champion and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist in downhill skiing.
Tommy Moe Alpine skier, Tommy Moe won the gold medal in downhill skiing and the silver medal in the super-G event at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. He was the first U.S. man to win two Alpine Olympic medals in one year.
Jewel Shortly after she was born in May of 1974, Jewel's parents moved to Homer, Alaska, settling on an 800-acre homestead. After graduating from a performing arts college, she moved to San Diego and began a successful career in pop music.
Scott Gomez Scott Gomez of Anchorage was the National Hockey League's rookie of the year in 2000. His team, the New Jersey Devils, won the Stanley Cup.
Irene Bedard Irene Bedard is an actress originally from Anchorage. She was the voice of Disney's Pocahontas and starred in the film "Smoke Signals."
Carlos Boozer Juneau's Carlos Boozer plays basketball for the Utah Jazz.
Trajan Langdon Anchorage's Trajan Langdan plays basketball for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
Famous People Who are Associated with Alaska/the Yukon
Skookum Jim Skookum Jim, a Tagish Native, discovered the gold in Rabbit Creek that started the Klondike Gold Rush.
Jack London Writer and adventurer, Jack London spent the winter of 1897 in the Yukon and from that experience wrote the books, "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang."
Wyatt Earp After the infamous shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, Wyatt would live almost another 50 years, well into the 20th century. He was never able to settle down in all his further years, and was mining almost to his death at age 80 in 1929. He continued to move around to different towns in the west and spent several years in Nome, Alaska during the gold rush of the late 1890s.
Follow these Related Links and Find More Famous Alaskans
Note: When you click on these links, you will be leaving the Alaska Division of Community and Business Development web pages - we are not responsible for their accuracy nor are we able to make changes to the sites. They are provided for your convenience.
Alaska's Studies: Teacher's Tool Box
Women in Alaska's Gold Rush History
Women of the Iditarod
Learn About More Famous Alaskans

Alaska Facts

State Nick Name: "The Last Frontier" - the name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word "Aleyska," meaning "great land."

State Motto: "North to the Future"

State Capital: Juneau, located in the Southeast region of Alaska, has a population of 31,275 (2010 Census)

Alaska Map:

Map of Alaska

Alaska Flag:

Alaska state flag is dark blue with yellow stars in the shape of the big dipper with the North star

NOTE: The State of Alaska is not responsible for the content/information on any site outside of a State of Alaska department.