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Adopted on May 2, 1927.
Alaska's flag was designed by 13-year old John Bell (Benny) Benson. Benson was part Russian-Aleut and part Swedish. He was born at Chignik, grew up at the Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska and later in Seward, and spent most of his adult life in Kodiak, where he worked for Kodiak Airways. He had two daughters and several stepchildren and grandchildren. He died on July 2, 1972. Visitors to Seward can find the Benny Benson Memorial at Mile 1.4 of the Seward Highway.
When he was a seventh grader living at an orphanage in Seward, Alaska, he responded to a contest sponsored by the Alaska Department of the American Legion. Benny's eight stars of gold on a field of blue won him a gold watch engraved with the flag he designed. He also won a $1,000 for school and a trip to Washington D.C. to present the flag to President Coolidge. Benny was never able to collect the trip to Washington but his flag was adopted by the Territorial Legislature as Alaska's official flag in May 1927. The original flag, made of blue silk and appliqued gold stars, was first flown July 9, 1927. In 1959 when Alaska became the 49th state, Benny's flag, which features the Big Dipper and the North Star, became our official state flag.
Words for Alaska's Flag Song
Eight stars of gold on a field of blue --
Alaska's flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby;
The gold of the early sourdough dreams,
The precious gold of the hills and streams;
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The Bear--the Dipper-- and,
shining high, the great North Star with its steady light,
Over land and sea a beacon bright.
Alaska's flag--to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last frontier.
The simple flag of the last frontier.
The University of Alaska holds the copyright to the song. For further information, contact the University Archivist at the Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6808.
Official description from Alakasa CodeSec. 44.09.020. State flag. The design of the official flag is eight gold stars in a field of blue, so selected for its simplicity, its originality and its symbolism. The blue, one of the national colors, typifies the evening sky, the blue of the sea and of mountain lakes, and of wild flowers that grow in Alaskan soil, the gold being significant of the wealth that lies hidden in Alaska's hills and streams. The stars, seven of which form the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear, the most conspicuous constellation in the northern sky, contains the stars which form the "Dipper," including the "Pointers"which point toward the eighth star in the flag, Polaris, the North Star, the ever constant star for the mariner, the explorer, hunter, trapper, prospector, woodsman, and the surveyor. For Alaska the northernmost star in the galaxy of stars and which at some future time will take its place as the forty-ninth star in the national emblem.
The flag of the Territory of Alaska is the official flag of the state. The standard proportions and size graphically delineated herein shall be used in the manufacture of the official flag of Alaska. The stars shall be the color of natural yellow gold and the field of blue shall be of the same shade of blue used in the official manufacture of the national emblem of the United States.