This was Mardy Murie

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

This letter is a week late to answer the question in the paper, "Who is Mardy Murie?" Since the film was viewed late on PBS and the article about her 100th birthday in August was never carried in our local paper I will attempt to answer this question. After the passing of Rachel Carson and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, the title of the Grandmother of the Conservation Movement went to Margaret Murie. She turned 100 years old on Aug. 18 of this year.

Mardy was born in Seattle, but moved to Alaska at a young age. In 1924 she became the first woman graduate from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. In that year, she married naturalist Olaus Murie - then with the U.S. Biological Survey - and the duo promptly departed on a caribou research expedition, mushing their way across the Brooks Range and the Arctic Wildlife Range. This story of that wilderness honeymoon is told in one of the best-selling Alaska books, "Two in the Far North." This book has become a classic based on her private journals.

Her activism is widely recognized. At the signing of the Alaska lands act she was personally commended by then-President Jimmy Carter. Three years later she was awarded the Sierra Club's John Muir Award. In 1998 she received the Medal of Freedom by former President Bill Clinton for her tireless dedication to the cause of preserving nature.

Mardy's life is the subject of a highly acclaimed documentary, "Arctic Dance: The Mardy Murie Story." This was the film shown on KTOO PBS TV two weeks ago.

Cliff Lobaugh


Editor's note: The Empire published a feature article about Murie this year prior to her 100th birthday.

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