State song would acknowledge Native boy

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003

Members of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee were serenaded today with a proposed new verse to the "Alaska Flag Song" that honors the Native youth who designed the state flag.

The measure, authored by Juneau Republican Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, was approved by the committee and now goes to the State Affairs Committee. Weyhrauch is chairman of the latter committee.

The "Alaska Flag Song" - adopted as the official state song in 1956 - was written by Marie Drake and composed by Elinor Dusenbery. The second verse was written by Carol Beery Davis and donated to the University of Alaska Foundation in 1987.

Teri Tibbett, a legislative staff member for Rep. Max Gruenberg, an Anchorage Democrat who co-authored the bill, sang both verses of the song at the early morning committee meeting.

The new verse reads: "A Native lad chose the Dipper's stars, for Alaska's flag that there be no bars among our cultures. Be it known through years the Natives' past has grown to share life's treasures, hand in hand, to keep Alaska our great land; We love the northern, midnight sky, the mountains, lakes, and streams nearby. The great North Star with its steady light will guide all cultures, clear and bright, with nature's flag to Alaskans dear, the simple flag of the last frontier."

The verse refers to Benny Benson, a Native boy, 13, who designed the state flag, which features the Big Dipper.

Weyhrauch's bill is not the first effort by lawmakers to add the second verse to the song.

Linda Sylvester, a staff member for Weyhrauch who presented the bill before the committee, noted the first attempt was made in 1987 by then-Rep. Fran Ulmer of Juneau. Last session Rep. Carl Morgan, an Aniak Republican, sponsored the bill. It received approval in the House but did not make it to a floor vote in the Senate.

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