AHS Blog

2021 Alaska Historical Society Awards

Date Posted: October 18, 2021       Categories: News

Alaska Historical Society Recognizes Ten Alaskans and Organizations for Outstanding Contributions to the Promotion of Alaska History

The Alaska Historical Society has presented ten awards to Alaskans and Alaska organizations to recognize their outstanding contributions to the study of Alaska history. The awards were presented October 15, 2021 during the Annual Business Meeting held during the final weekend of the Society’s six-day annual virtual conference.

The awards include:

Evangeline Atwood Award for Excellence – given to an individual for significant long-term contributions to Alaska history. Joan Skilbred of Fairbanks was recognized for “decades of extraordinary energy and prodigious research skills toward uncovering and disseminating Alaska history.” Her topics have included the significance of logging in early Fairbanks, contributions of pioneer women and early African-American gold miners in Interior Alaska.

Elva R. Scott Local Historical Society Award – recognizes an historical society or museum for its programs, publications or a significant recent accomplishment. Two organizations received this year’s award: the Cook Inlet Historical Society and the Anchorage Museum. They coordinated the production of eight on-line lectures during Covid restrictions when most in-person events were cancelled. One program recreated the 1921 Anchorage Festival of Music concert to honor the organization’s centennial and another proposed a resolution to the infamous unsolved murder of Anchorage’s first police chief, John Sturgus. Rebecca Pottebaum at the Museum and Bruce Parham with the Society received special recognition.

Esther Billman Award – given to a society, museum, government agency or organization contributing to the preservation and understanding of Alaska history during the past year. This year’s winner is the Gastineau Channel Historical Society of Juneau for its excellent newsletter, Gastineau Heritage News. This year the society compiled a remarkable and comprehensive history of Juneau-Douglas breweries, tracking brewing to the 1700s when Russians introduced liquor to the Aleutian Islands, summarized the ever-changing liquor laws and public sentiment, and introduced the thriving craft brewing industry. Newsletter editor Laury Scandling and President Gary Gillette are recognized for outstanding work.

Contributions to Alaska History Award – recognizes individuals or groups for projects, publications and other efforts that have significantly promoted and added to understanding Alaska history. Three awards were made this year: Irene Sparks Rowan of Anchorage for her work to preserve and share the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; Alaska journalist and author Dermot Cole of Fairbanks is recognized for his commitment to journalism to which he brings a deep historical perspective, his contributions to Alaska history through publication of six books and his courage to ask tough questions of public figures; and J. Pennelope Goforth of Anchorage is recognized for many years as a researcher and writer and for her impassioned advocacy for Alaska history, especially Alaska’s maritime history which she has been researching at least since the 1980s.

The Society annually gives Student and Beginning Professional Travel Scholarship Awards to help individuals attend and participate in the Alaska Historical Society/Museums Alaska annual meetings and conference. The Society’s Board of Directors recently voted to rename this the Terrence M. Cole Student and Beginning Professional Travel Scholarship Awards, to recognize the contributions of the late UAF Professor Terrence Cole. This year’s recipient is Lauren Peters, a doctoral student in Native American Studies at the University of California Davis. Lauren presented at the Society’s conference this year on “Sophia’s Return,” about a girl from St. Paul Island who was orphaned and sent in 1895 to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania where she died. This past summer, Sophia’s remains were returned to St. Paul Island.

The editorial advisory board members of the Society’s journal, Alaska History, make an award for the best article that appeared in the last volume of the journal. Former Alaskans Morgan and Jeanie Sherwood endowed this award and the recipient receives $500. This year’s Award goes to Robert L. Spude for his article “Fairbanks Assayer Gustave Eugene Beraud and 88 Tons of Gold, with Comments on the Assayers in the Alaska-Yukon Goldfields, 1898-1920” in a 2020 edition of the journal.

The President’s Award/Beaver Log – presented by the Society president to an individual for outstanding contributions. This year’s award goes to David Ramseur of Anchorage for editing, expanding and improving Alaska History News, the Society’s quarterly newsletter, and for helping with the organization’s advocacy efforts.

Cook Inlet Historical Society Panel Discussion: Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971

Date Posted: October 18, 2021       Categories: News

AFN Delegation, 1970. Courtesy of Cook Inlet Historical Society and Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.

COOK INLET HISTORICAL SOCIETY LECTURE: A panel discussion commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).

WHEN: Thursday, October 21, 2021, 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Online via Crowdcast. Free; advance registration is required.

Use this link to sign up:
(the same link can be used to review the recorded event after the program conclusion)

You can also sign up through the Anchorage Museum at:

Fifty years ago, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) marked a shift in the Congressional approach to federal policy for Indigenous communities. The landmark passage of ANCSA created visionary for-profit corporations tasked with promoting the social, cultural, and economic advancement of their Alaska Native people and communities in perpetuity.

Moderated by Bill Schneider, president of the Alaska Historical Society and Emeritus Professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, panelists Rhonda McBride, Joaqlin Estus and Jon Butzke, award-winning journalists who have reported extensively on Alaska Native issues and ANCSA, will discuss ANCSA’s past, present and future legacy and their work reporting on it.


Rhonda McBride‘s passion for covering rural Alaska and Alaska Native issues began in 1988 at Bethel’s public radio and TV station, KYUK, where she was mentored by pioneering Yup’ik language broadcasters. Her work at KYUK sparked an interest in tracking the impacts of ANCSA in the region, a fascination that continues today, after more than 30 years. Most recently she hosted “Frontiers,” a TV show, which brought the faces, places and spirit of Alaska into living rooms across the state every Sunday for nearly five years. Currently, she is an arts and culture producer and talk-show host for Juneau’s public radio station, KTOO.

Joaqlin Estus is a staff reporter for Indian Country Today. Previously, she worked as the news director at KBNA 90.3 FM, an Anchorage-based radio station owned and operated by Alaska Natives. She has worked as a reporter at radio stations in Alaska and with Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul. As a USC Annenberg Fellowship National Health Journalism Fellow and Dennis Hunt grant recipient, she produced a radio series on the effects of the lack of running water and flush toilets on the health of thousands of Alaska Natives living in dozens of under-served rural villages.

Jon Butzke is Iñupiat, grew up in Anchorage and Nome area, with King Island and Wales ancestry. Jon’s company, Talking Circle Media, produces live statewide TV coverage of the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, the state’s largest convention. After more than three decades of shooting documentaries and other video projects, he has also documented the majority of ANCSA events and video interviews archiving ANCSA.

Upcoming Online Presentation: Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Date Posted: October 13, 2021       Categories: News

Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges is hosting the following online event:

WHAT:  “From Caribou Corrals to Seaplane Hangars: A Cultural Resources Overview of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges”

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 5-6pm (AKDT)

WHO:  Jeremy Karchut, Regional Archeologist/Regional Historic Preservation Officer, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region

All the info and link to join online is here:  https://alaskarefugefriends.org/tuesday-october-19-2021-5pm-akdt/

Solidarity with Alaska’s Jewish Community

Date Posted: October 5, 2021       Categories: News

Statement on History, the Climate of Divisiveness, and Support and Solidarity
with Alaska’s Jewish Community

The Alaska Historical Society Board of Directors expresses support and solidarity with Alaska’s Jewish community. In the last few weeks, we have watched with dismay as a series of anti-Semitic actions have taken place in our largest community, Anchorage.

A few weeks ago, the Alaska Jewish Museum was again vandalized. This time, vandals etched swastikas and placed Nazi stickers across the museum’s entry door. More recently, community members who attended a public hearing to register opposition to a proposal that Anchorage adopt an indoor mask mandate donned Stars of David, drawing parallels to German Jews targeted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and early ‘40s.

The AHS is dedicated to the promotion of Alaska’s history, the celebration of our rich cultural diversity and to the civil exchange of ideas. We recognize that acts of anti-Semitic vandalism and the misappropriation of Nazi-era iconography display not only a gross misuse of history but also a deep-seated ignorance and maliciousness that we must dedicate ourselves to address and eradicate.

Therefore, we at the Historical Society deem these actions as offensive, hateful, and worthy of public repudiation.

William S. Schneider, President                                       Ian C. Hartman, Chair, Advocacy Committee

October 2, 2021

Click here for a PDF of the signed document

Job Opportunity – Curator of Collections

Date Posted: August 21, 2021       Categories: News

Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum is seeking a qualified candidate for a Curator of Collections position. This is a year round part-time position (20 hours per week) for the term of one year with potential for being permanent.

The Curator of Collections plays a key role in organizing museum collections and oversees digitization, research and is responsible for the preservation, security and management of museum collections.

For a job description and to apply, contact the museum at 907-733-2487 or email: manager@talkeetnahistoricalsociety.org. You can send a resume and letter of interest to Director, Talkeetna Historical Society, PO Box 76, Talkeetna AK 99676 or email to the address above. Applications are accepted until September 15, 2021.

The Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum is located in downtown Talkeetna, AK and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. It is the oldest non-profit in Talkeetna and the Museum has been collecting and preserving history since 1974.