February 21, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 8

Petersburg celebrates Elizabeth Peratrovich

Despite the rain and cold, Petersburg residents gathered Saturday to celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich, a civil rights activist who worked on behalf of equality for Alaska Natives.

Shelly Pope
Saturday’s rainy parade honoring Elizabeth Peratrovich.

Peratrovich was credited with advocacy that gained the passage of the territory's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States.

According to the National Women's History Museum, Peratrovich was the last person to speak at the Territorial Senate beginning her speech saying, “I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights.”

Many schools across Alaska have passed resolutions celebrating Peratrovich and her contribution to the Alaskan Native heritage.

According the Anchorage School Board, Elizabeth Peratrovich Day provides an opportunity to remind the public of the invaluable contribution of this Native Alaskan leader who was an advocate for Native citizens and their rights.

Members of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood led a small parade down Nordic Drive singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” which is the ANB and ANS anthem.

Peratrovich was a resident of Petersburg along with fellow civil rights leader, Amy Hallingstad, who was also honored Saturday.

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