The state flag of Alaska is a dark blue design with 7 yellow stars depicting the Big Dipper and one larger yellow depicting the North Star. It was adopted on May 2, 1927, when the region was the Territory of Alaska (Alaska Territory) and was not yet a state. Before the adoption of this flag the territory had used the United States flag as their symbolic flag and had done so since Alaska was sold to the United States by Russia. It was retained as the state flag when Alaska became a state in 1959. Let’s find out who designed this symbol of the northernmost state.
Who designed Alaska’s State flag?
The state flag of Alaska was designed by 13 year old 7th grader Benny Benson who was living at an orphanage in Seward, Alaska. He won a contest in 1927 to design a new flag for the Alaska Territory. The contest was open to all children from 7th to 12th grades and over 700 entries were received. He was inspired by the stars that he looked at every night before going to sleep. His description of the design was as follows:
“The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear — symbolizing strength.”
Did you know?
For his winning design Benson received a gold watch and $1000 to visit Washington D.C. to present the flag to the president. However, he never made the trip because of the president’s busy schedule. He was instead given $1000 towards his education.
The state song of Alaska is “Alaska’s Flag”, which explains the symbolism behind the flag. It was written as a poem in 1934 by Marie Drake and was based on the above words submitted by Benny Benson with his design. The music was written by Elinor Dusenbury who was homesick for Alaska and the song rose in popularity. It was made the state song in 1959.