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You'd Want to Know More About These Famous People from Alaska

Famous People from Alaska
Also referred to as the 'The Last Frontier' and 'The Land of the Midnight Sun', Alaska, area wise the largest state in the United States, boasts of producing some of the most distinguished American citizens of all time. Here's a bit about some of the most famous people from Alaska.
Historyplex Staff
Did you know?

In 1867, the territory of Alaska was purchased by the United States from the Russian Empire. The deal was struck for $7,200,000 by a man called William H. Seward. Though he was ridiculed at the time, he is now more famous for the deal than for his political achievements.

Alaska, the 49th state of the United States of America, has evolved from being an undeveloped state to one of the major contributors to the U.S. economy. Today, it boasts of more than five times the jobs it had 50 years ago, and a much more prosperous and stable population. During the 1970s and 1980s, Alaska witnessed an unprecedented developmental phase that helped to a great extent in its progress. Earlier, people who lacked facilities, flourished in all aspects of life during this period. Ever since, the contributions of the Alaskans to various fields of human activity have been remarkable.

Famous Alaskans

Following are some of the famous people of Alaska, who continue to inspire many people across the world.


"Big Mike" Heney
Michael James Heney (1864-1910), a.k.a "Big Mike" or "The Irish Prince of Alaska", was a railroad contractor who built two of the most impeccable railroads viz., the 'White Pass and Yukon Route', and the 'Copper River and Northwestern Route', which are considered to be marvelous engineering feats. Remarkably, he built these rail routes without having any sort of formal technical education.

Ernest Gruening
Ernest Gruening (1887-1974) was a journalist, and the territorial governor of Alaska from 1935 to 1953. As a governor, he formed the Alaska Territorial Guard or Eskimo Scouts to protect the Alaskan region from Japanese invasions during World War II. He lobbied for the statehood of Alaska, and was a senator from 1956 to 1958. He was an able leader and a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.

Ray Mala
Ray Mala (1906-1952) was a famous actor of yesteryears, and one of the most famous Alaskan film personalities. He starred in Eskimo/Mala The Magnificent, an Oscar winning film, as well as the first to win an Academy Award in the 'Best Film Editing' category. He was the first Native American movie star.

Elizabeth Peratrovich
Elizabeth Peratrovich (1911-1958) was a civil rights activist, who worked for the rights of native Alaskan people. She played a pivotal role in bringing about a major change in government attitude with regards to Alaska's Native citizens. Elizabeth championed the passage of the anti-discrimination bill, which guaranteed equal treatment for all citizens in public accommodations.

Howard Rock
Howard Rock (1911-1976) was the editor of the Tundra Times, and was instrumental in getting the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act passed. His efforts prevented the 'Atomic Energy Commission' from conducting nuclear tests at a site near Point Hope in Alaska, where he was born.

Benny Benson
Benny Benson (1913-1972) was the man behind the conception and creation of the official flag of the State of Alaska. In a competition for students from grades seven to twelve in 1926, Benny's design was selected as the winning entry for the territorial flag, which later on became Alaska's state flag. He was only thirteen years old at that time.

Susan Butcher
Susan Butcher (1954-2006), a dog musher, is the only woman to win theIditarod Sled Dog Race, for four consecutive years out of the five in which she participated, from 1986 to 1989. She died in 2006, and to pay tribute to her, the Alaskans celebrate the Susan Butcher Day on the first Saturday in March each year.

Molly Hootch and Anna Tobeluk
Both, Molly Hootch (born in 1956) and Anna Tobeluk (1957-1980), are credited for revolutionizing the Native Alaskan village education. Prior to 1976, many Alaskan villages lacked educational facilities beyond the eighth grade. A number of Native students together filed a suit against the State of Alaska for the provision of high schools in 100 of its villages. The case was named 'Tobeluk' but is popularly referred to as the 'Molly Hootch case', for her role as a leader in the plaintiffs' agitation. 126 schools were granted high school status by the court as a result of this effort.

Libby Riddles
Libby Riddles, a dog musher born in 1956, was the first woman to win theLast Great Race on Earth, a name for the 1,049 miles long Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in 1985. She achieved this at the age of 29, and took 18 days, 2 minutes and 17 seconds on a route from Anchorage to Nome.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin was born in 1964, and was the governor of Alaska till July 2009. She captured world's attention when she was nominated for the post of Vice President by the Republican Party. Although she lost to Senator John McCain, the presidential nominee, her popularity grew manifold. She is also an author, a sports journalist, a political commentator, and a commercial fisherwoman.

Irene Bedard
Irene Bedard, born in 1967, is a famous American actress born and brought up in Anchorage, Alaska. Irene has acted in a lot of Hollywood flicks, and was voted by People Magazine as one of the top 50 beautiful people in 1995. She is best known as the voice for the main character in the animated Disney film Pocahontas.

Trajan Langdon
Trajan Langdon (born in 1976) is a famous basketball player who played for Cleveland Cavaliers, and is currently a top player for CSKA Moscow in Russia. Langdon, also nicknamed Alaskan Assassin, is the first Alaskan to play in the NBA.

Scott Gomez
Scott Gomez, an ice hockey player born in 1979, is the first Alaskan to play in the American National Hockey League (NHL), and also the first player of Latino origin to achieve this distinction. Currently, he is playing for the Alaska Aces.

Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer, born in 1981, is yet another basketball sensation raised in Alaska. He has been a part of the All-Stars NBA team as well as the gold medal winning U.S. basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


More Famous Alaskans

The list of famous Alaskans cannot be complete without mentioning the following distinguished individuals, of whom, not only Alaska, but the entire world is proud.

Margaret Murie - Author, environmentalist, conservationist - called 'Grandmother of the Conservation Movement'

Virgil Franklin Partch - Cartoonist

Khaleed Leon "Khleo" Thomas - Actor, singer, rapper

Daryn Colledge - Footballer

Anna Kathryn Holbrook - American soap opera actress

Randy Kutcher - Baseball player

Jason Ryznar - Ice hockey player

Nathan West - Actor

Jewell - Actress, singer, songwriter, and guitarist

Sydney Mortimer Laurence - Painter

Austin Lathrop - Industrialist

Charles E. Bunnell - Educator

Margaret Elizabeth Bell - Writer

Vern Tejas - Mountaineer

All these people, and many more, have brought name, fame, and glory to Alaska, and the state continues to revel in their honor.


Famous Alaskan Criminals

Though, for years, Alaska has been associated with its beautiful landscapes, and captivating wildlife, crime has also been a eloquent part of its social setup. Given below is the list of some classic Alaskan fugitives, who became famous because of their illegal and anti-social ways.

Jefferson "Soapy" C. Smith - Conman, famous for crooked gambling

Edward Krause - Alaska's first suspected serial killer

Charles Hendrickson (a.k.a "The Blue Parka Bandit") - Robber, famous for donating a part of his booty to the Church

Nellie Beatty (a.k.a "The Black Bear") - Famous of her illegal dealings in mining, banking, and for prostitution.

Frank Canton - Bank robber, and a cattle thief

Tommy Johnson (a.k.a "The Blueberry Kid") - Suspected murderer, who could never be caught

William Dempsey - Murderer

William Wellington & Edward Hanson (a.k.a "The Sheep Camp Vigilantes") - Burglars

Fred Hardy - Robber and murderer

With the passage of time, more and more Alaskans are taking on new challenges in various fields, and proving themselves. Taking inspiration from the 'glorious Alaskans', the coming generations continue to make their state, and the world proud.