Stories from the Trail: Eight Gold Stars on a Field of Blue
Eight stars of gold on a field of blue –
Alaska’s flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow’rs nearby;
The gold of the early sourdough’s dreams,
The precious gold of the hills and streams;
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The “Bear” – the “Dipper” – and, shining high,
The great North Star with its steady light,
Over land and sea a beacon bright.
Alaska’s flag – to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last frontier.
Alaska State Song
Very few state flags have the story behind them that Alaska’s flag does. In 1927, The Alaska Department of the American Legion decided to sponsor a contest for students to design a flag to represent Alaska. Each town set up a panel of judges to judge the designs at a local level and then choose the best ten to be sent to Juneau for the final judging. Some of the designs sent to Juneau featured polar bears, some featured fishing and mining, and many featured the territorial seal. But the winning design that became the flag we know today was designed by a thirteen year old Aleut student named Benny Benson who was living in an orphanage in Seward at the time. In addition to having his design made into the official flag, he won a gold watch and a $1,000 towards a trip to Washington, DC.
In this lesson, the students will discover the story off Benny, his flag, and the meaning behind it and then will create their own flag to represent their classroom.