Old telegram shows racist past

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008

The Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in downtown Juneau was abuzz this week with people looking to Southeast's future at the annual Native Summit, but the past was not forgotten.

Harvey Marvin of Juneau came with copies of a telegram he's had for 28 years.

The Sitka Auxiliary of the American Legion sent it to the legion auxiliary in Indianapolis on April 11, 1926:

"Wholesale voting of illiterate indians has endangered municipality of Sitka and is serious menace for Territory," it reads. "Sitka in control renegade whites put in office by vote of illiterate natives."

Marvin was in a group that found the telegram in a box of archives in 1980, in a log cabin behind the American Legion building in Sitka.

Marvin, 75, a veteran originally from Hoonah, keeps it to remind himself and others of the importance of voting.

"The right to vote was the first thing the Alaska Native Brotherhood fought for," Marvin said. "Our people fought for nothing if we don't use it."

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