Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Elizabeth Peratrovich

Sometimes I can get a little paranoid, and today was one of those times. Look at that gorgeous Google doodle for today. I spend a certain amount of time looking at Alaskan legend as a source of art images for my quilting, so when I saw the Google doodle, I thought it was one of those targeted things.

Not so.

As it turns out, it is a doodle honoring an Alaskan Tlingit woman, Elizabeth Peratrovich. I’ve taken the following from Wikipedia (to which I donate, so I am comfortable sharing what they have to say. I love that it is updated to show today’s doodle.) This woman was something special:

Elizabeth Jean Peratrovich (Tlingit name: Kaaxgal.aat; July 4, 1911 – December 1, 1958) was an American civil rights activist and member of the Tlingit nation who worked for equality on behalf of Alaska Natives.[1] In the 1940s, her advocacy was credited as being instrumental in the passing of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the first state or territorial anti-discrimination law enacted in the United States in the 20th century. In 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16 as Elizabeth Peratrovich Day “for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska” (Alaska Statutes 44.12.065).[2] In March 2019, her obituary was added to The New York Times as part of their “Overlooked No More” series.[3]

Early life and education

Elizabeth Peratrovich, whose name at birth was Kaaxgal.aat[4], was born on July 4, 1911, in Petersburg, Alaska,[5] as a member of the Lukaax̱.ádi clan in the Raven moiety of the Tlingit nation. When she was young, she was adopted by Andrew and Jean Wanamaker (née Williams), who gave her the name “Elizabeth Jean”.[6][7] Andrew was a fisherman and Presbyterian lay minister. The Wanamakers raised Elizabeth in Petersburg, Klawock, and Ketchikan, Alaska. Elizabeth graduated from Ketchikan High School, and then attended Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, and the Western College of Education in Bellingham, Washington (now part of Western Washington University).[a] In 1931, Elizabeth married Roy Peratrovich (1908-1989), who was also Tlingit, as well as of Serbian ancestry.[9]

Activism

In 1941, while living in Juneau, Alaska, Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich encountered discrimination in their attempts to secure housing and gain access to public facilities. They petitioned the territorial governor, Ernest Gruening, to prohibit public places from posting the “No dogs or Natives allowed” signs that were common in Alaska during this time.[citation needed]

The Anti-Discrimination Act was proposed by the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Alaska Native Sisterhood, but the first attempt to pass this legislation failed in 1943.[citation needed] However, in 1945, Roy and Elizabeth Peratrovich became the Presidents of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Alaska Native Sisterhood, respectively, and lobbied the territory’s legislators and Governor Gruening to pass the act.[citation needed]

Before the territorial Senate voted on the bill in 1945, Elizabeth Peratrovich, representing the Alaskan Native Sisterhood, was the last to testify, and her impassioned speech was considered decisive.[10] Responding to territorial senator Allen Shattuck of Juneau, who had earlier asked “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites, with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?,” she stated:[11]

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.[12]

Fran Ulmer, who represented Juneau in the Alaska House of Representatives (and who later became lieutenant governor of Alaska), in 1992 said the following about Peratrovich’s testimony:

She talked about herself, her friends, her children, and the cruel treatment that consigned Alaska Natives to a second-class existence. She described to the Senate what it means to be unable to buy a house in a decent neighborhood because Natives aren’t allowed to live there. She described how children feel when they are refused entrance into movie theaters, or see signs in shop windows that read “No dogs or Natives allowed.”[12]

The Senate voted 11-5 for House Resolution 14, providing “…full and equal accommodations, facilities, and privileges to all citizens in places of public accommodations within the jurisdiction of the Territory of Alaska; to provide penalties for violation.”[11] The bill was signed into law by Governor Gruening in 1945, nearly 20 years before the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Acts of the territorial legislature required final approval from the U.S. Congress, which affirmed it (Bob Bartlett, Alaskan delegate, was known for his efficiency in passing legislation). Alaska thus became the first territory or state to end “Jim Crow” since 18 states banned discrimination in public accommodations in the three decades following the Civil War; not until 1955 would two more states, New Mexico and Montana, follow suit.[13]

The Peratrovich family papers, including correspondence, personal papers, and news clippings related to the civil rights work done by Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich, are currently held at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.[14]

Personal facts

On December 15, 1931, Elizabeth married Roy Peratrovich (1908–1989), also a Tlingit, of mixed native and Serbian descent who worked in a cannery.[citation needed] They lived in Klawock, where Roy was elected to four terms as mayor.[citation needed]

Looking for greater opportunities for work and their children, they moved to Juneau, where they found more extensive social and racial discrimination against Alaska Natives. They had three children: daughter Loretta, and sons Roy, Jr. and Frank.[11]

The Peratrovich family later moved to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, where Roy pursued an economics degree at St. Francis Xavier University.[citation needed] From there they moved to Denver, Colorado, where Roy studied at the University of Denver.[citation needed] In the 1950s, the Peratroviches moved to Oklahoma, and then back to Alaska.[citation needed]

Elizabeth Peratrovich died after battling breast cancer on December 1, 1958, at the age of 47.[15] She is buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Juneau, Alaska, alongside her husband Roy.[citation needed]

Her son, Roy Peratrovich, Jr., became a noted civil engineer in Alaska. He designed the Brotherhood Bridge in Juneau, which carries the Glacier Highway over the Mendenhall River.[16]

Legacy and honors

2020 Native American $1 Coin

  • On February 6, 1988, the Alaska Legislature established February 16 (the day in 1945 on which the Anti-Discrimination Act was signed) as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day,” in order to honor her contributions: “for her courageous, unceasing efforts to eliminate discrimination and bring about equal rights in Alaska” (Alaska Statutes 44.12.065).[17]
  • The Elizabeth Peratrovich Award was established in her honor by the Alaska Native Sisterhood.[citation needed]
  • In 1992, Gallery B of the Alaska House of Representatives chamber in the Alaska State Capitol was renamed in her honor.[12] Of the four galleries located in the respective two chambers, the Peratrovich Gallery is the only one named for someone other than a former legislator (the other House gallery was named for Warren A. Taylor; the Senate galleries were named for former Senators Cliff Groh and Robert H. Ziegler).
  • In 2003, a park[18] in downtown Anchorage was named for Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich. It encompasses the lawn surrounding Anchorage’s former city hall, with a small amphitheater in which concerts and other performances are held.[19]
  • In 2009, a documentary about Peratrovich’s groundbreaking civil rights advocacy premiered on October 22 at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage. Entitled For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska, the film was scheduled to air as a PBS documentary film in November 2009. The film was produced by Blueberry Productions, Inc. and was primarily written by Jeffry Lloyd Silverman of Anchorage.[20]
  • In 2017, the theater in Ketchikan’s Southeast Alaska Discovery Center was named in honor of Elizabeth Peratrovich, and a companion exhibit exploring her role in the struggle for Alaska Native civil rights was unveiled.[21]
  • In 2018, Elizabeth Peratrovich was chosen by the National Women’s History Project as one of its honorees for Women’s History Month in the United States.[22]
  • On October 5, 2019, United States Mint Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Hernandez announced that Peratrovich would appear on the reverse of the 2020 Native American $1 Coin, making her the first Alaska Native to be featured on U.S. currency.[23][24][25]
  • In December 2019, a 4-story apartment building called Elizabeth Place, named after Peratrovich, opened in downtown Anchorage.
  • In July 2020, a new mural was unveiled in honor of Peratrovich in Petersburg Alaska.[26]
  • On December 30, 2020, a Google Doodle in the United States and Canada honored Elizabeth Peratrovich. The Doodle was drawn by Tlingit artist Micheala Goade.[27]

December 30, 2020 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Biography, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | | Leave a comment

Woman Caught in Adultery

Today’s readings from The Lectionary feature this puzzling story:

John 7:53-8:11

53Then each of them went home, 81while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.* 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’* And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’]]* 

“What’s so puzzling?” you might ask.

So many things.

What did Jesus write on the ground?

If women had been present, would still no stone have been thrown?

What did he write on the ground the second time, as the men gathered to stone the woman slipped away, one by one?

Why do women get punished so severely for sexual acts when Jesus was so forgiving? I get that families like to be sure who the father is, providing for babies born to a woman, but it seems to me that women are judged by an unequal scale, and I don’t find justification for that in scripture. I fine it illuminating that while Jesus never dealt with homosexuality, or abortion (that is recorded), he was gentle with this woman caught in the very act of adultery.

The morning readings often provide food for thought as the day works its way out.

December 30, 2020 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Faith, Lectionary Readings, Mating Behavior, Relationships | Leave a comment