Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/01/2003 08:01 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR  5-LEGIS. TASK FORCE ON DESIGN OF STATE SEAL                                                                              
Number 0139                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION  NO. 5, Establishing a  task force to                                                               
make  recommendations regarding  a  new design  for the  official                                                               
seal of the State of Alaska.                                                                                                    
Number 0163                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  REGGIE JOULE,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of HCR  5, gave a  PowerPoint presentation.   Saying there  is no                                                               
symbol  of Alaska  older  than  the state  seal,  he offered  his                                                               
belief that it is time to modernize  it.  Thus HCR 5 would create                                                               
a task  force of eight citizens  to provide for a  focal point of                                                               
public  involvement in  designing a  new  seal.   After the  task                                                               
force  reports back  to the  legislature in  January [2004],  the                                                               
legislature  will decide  whether  to adopt  the  new design  and                                                               
commission the engraver.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  surmised that most Alaskans  probably don't                                                               
realize  the current  seal is  the  second one  to represent  the                                                               
government  of Alaska.   In  1885 the  first appointed  governor,                                                               
John  Kinkead,  designed a  seal  for  the military  district  of                                                               
Alaska; in use  approximately 25 years, it  depicted the northern                                                               
lights, icebergs,  and "an Alaska  Native or  two."  He  said the                                                               
only place  he knows of where  the district seal is  still in use                                                               
is on the mantel of the  fireplace of the governor's house, where                                                               
it was uncovered  from under many layers of paint  when the house                                                               
was restored in the 1980s.                                                                                                      
Number 0366                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  said then-Governor Walter Clark  decided in                                                               
1910  that  the  district  seal  was  inappropriate  for  several                                                               
reasons, including  its depiction  of icebergs,  northern lights,                                                               
and Natives.   Governor Clark hired a man to  draw a rough sketch                                                               
to include more modern developments  in Alaska; the result is the                                                               
design that was  sent to Washington, D.C., for  approval in 1910.                                                               
Around  that time,  however,  someone in  the  Department of  the                                                               
Interior commissioned a  more refined drawing and  sent that back                                                               
to Alaska.  Governor Clark  then commissioned an engraver to cast                                                               
the new seal, and it was  delivered to the Secretary of Alaska on                                                               
February 25, 1911.  In 1913,  the seal was changed again when the                                                               
word  "district"  was  changed  to "territory."    He  said,  "At                                                               
statehood, this seal became the  official state seal and remained                                                               
so as part of the statutes."                                                                                                    
Number 0518                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE referred to an article in the April 1911                                                                   
edition of the Alaska-Yukon Magazine that announced the new                                                                   
seal.  It read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                      
     The  Territory of  Alaska will  not permit  any one  to                                                                    
     forget  that development  and  industrial progress  are                                                                    
     its  chief concern.   Not  even will  public documents,                                                                    
     bearing   the  signature   of  the   territorial  chief                                                                    
     executive,  be permitted  [any]  longer  to convey,  to                                                                    
     those who take note of  them, the ancient conception of                                                                    
     the country  as a  land of  Arctic temperature  and the                                                                    
     home of an  unique race of aborigines.   Gov. Walter E.                                                                    
     Clark  has had  prepared a  new official  seal for  the                                                                    
     Territory  that  will  typify   modern  Alaska,  as  he                                                                    
     conceives  it.   While the  general design  of the  old                                                                    
     seal is retained in the  new, the whole effect has been                                                                    
     to   emphasize   the   important  industries   of   the                                                                    
     Territory, and  to present them on  the whole according                                                                    
     to their relative  importance.  The center  of the seal                                                                    
     shows  a  range of  mountains  in  the distance,  above                                                                    
     which  appears  the  rising   sun,  typifying  in  this                                                                    
     instance the dawn of the  commercial and industrial era                                                                    
     in Alaska.                                                                                                                 
     In the middle distance on the  left is a large ore mill                                                                    
     and a wharf, with a train  of ore cars and a spur track                                                                    
     leading toward the  mill.  In the harbor  adjacent is a                                                                    
     large  steamship, typifying  commerce,  and in  another                                                                    
     part of  the harbor  is a fishing  vessel, representing                                                                    
     one  of  the  great  industries.   The  forests,  also,                                                                    
     appear in the middle distance  on the left to represent                                                                    
     the  lumber  industry and  resources;  and  there is  a                                                                    
     harvest scene to typify agriculture.                                                                                       
     Around the circumference of the  seal appear the words:                                                                    
     "The Seal of the District  of Alaska," the two lines of                                                                    
     which are  separated on one  side by salmon and  on the                                                                    
     other side by  a fur seal in place  of the conventional                                                                    
     stars that are usually employed for this purpose.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said  those words from 1911  explain why the                                                               
official seal of  Alaska looks the way it does.   However, Alaska                                                               
is a  far different place today,  which leads to the  question of                                                               
whether its seal  should reflect those changes.   For example, in                                                               
1910 Anchorage did not exist,  and the state has outgrown several                                                               
industries  and [developed  new  ones].   For  example, do  urban                                                               
Alaska and  the oil and  gas industry  belong on the  state seal?                                                               
And is the horse and  plow the best representation of agriculture                                                               
in Alaska?   Representative Joule  noted that in 1910  [half] the                                                               
population of Alaska was Native,  and yet any depiction of Alaska                                                               
Natives was dropped  from the seal by Governor Clark.   He added,                                                               
"We have time to fix that omission."                                                                                            
Number 0760                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  said in 1885  and 1910, the idea  of public                                                               
involvement  in  designing  a  seal  was  not  considered.    The                                                               
legislature  can  fix  that  oversight  and  provide  a  valuable                                                               
learning experience for  Alaskan residents.  He said  HCR 5 "asks                                                               
all of  us to use our  imaginations."  Saying Governor  Clark had                                                               
looked  to  the  future,  Representative Joule  asked  that  [the                                                               
legislature] do  the same now  by asking what symbols  might have                                                               
currency with residents of Alaska 100 hundred years from now.                                                                   
Number 0821                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  showed  the  committee  some  other  state                                                               
logos, included  in the handout  of the  PowerPoint presentation,                                                               
including an  Alaska Department of Fish  & Game logo in  use from                                                               
1962  until  1977,  and the  ensuing  black-and-white  logo  that                                                               
dropped the totem pole design.   He noted that the design changed                                                               
again in 2001,  when color was added and the  lines were altered.                                                               
He also showed  the committee the logo used by  the Department of                                                               
Health &  Social Services (DHSS),  which was commissioned  in the                                                               
early 1990s after  extensive public involvement.   In response to                                                               
a   question  by   Chair  Weyhrauch,   he   confirmed  that   the                                                               
commissioner of the  DHSS was the one whose idea  it was to [have                                                               
a seal designed with public involvement].                                                                                       
Number 0925                                                                                                                     
JOHN GREELY,  Staff to Representative Reggie  Joule, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  in   response  to  follow-up  questions   by  Chair                                                               
Weyhrauch,  offered to  find  out the  history  behind [the  DHSS                                                               
seal].  He explained that the  images discussed [on pages 3 and 4                                                               
of the PowerPoint handout] are examples of state symbols.                                                                       
Number 1017                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  referred to  the  state  seals of  Hawaii,                                                               
Montana, and Idaho [page 5 of  the PowerPoint handout].  He noted                                                               
that  Hawaii's  seal  was adopted  at  statehood;  an  individual                                                               
changed the  Montana seal without  any regard to the  thoughts of                                                               
the legislature;  and the Idaho  seal was the only  official seal                                                               
designed  by a  woman, Emma  Edwards Green,  who took  part in  a                                                               
contest  sponsored   by  the  Idaho  legislature   shortly  after                                                               
statehood in 1890 and  won a $100 prize.  In  1957, he noted, the                                                               
Idaho  legislature updated  the  seal by  adding  symbols of  the                                                               
state's  main industries:    mining,  agriculture, and  forestry.                                                               
Representative  Joule   said  [HCR  5]  would   seek  out  public                                                               
involvement from people of all ages.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  referred to  the fiscal note  of [$53,000].                                                               
He mentioned a letter to  the First Alaskans Institute requesting                                                               
a partnership in getting this funded  to get it underway.  Noting                                                               
that the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing Committee                                                               
had  suggested seeking  a partnership,  he  indicated he'd  asked                                                               
members of  that committee to  forward names of  potential donors                                                               
with regard to underwriting the cost.                                                                                           
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  if  a  decision  of  "no  change"  is  a                                                               
potential outcome [of the task force].                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  answered that it's possible,  but he doubts                                                               
it would  happen.  He  said aviation is  a huge part  of Alaska's                                                               
history.    Referring to  the  omission  of [symbols]  of  Alaska                                                               
Natives,  he  listed  the  following  groups:    Inupiat,  Yupik,                                                               
Athabascan, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and  Aleut.  He asked, "Is                                                               
there one that would capture them all?"                                                                                         
Number 1478                                                                                                                     
MR. GREELY  mentioned suggestions  over the years  regarding room                                                               
on  the rim  of the  seal and  allowing [design  features] to  be                                                               
added without  changing the  [existing design] of  the seal.   He                                                               
indicated there  are different ways  of approaching a  new design                                                               
and said  it will be interesting  to see what the  public does if                                                               
it has a chance to weigh in.                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  how the  House  Community  and  Regional                                                               
Affairs  Standing Committee  meeting went  during its  hearing on                                                               
HCR 5 and whether anyone had testified on the issue.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE answered  no.   He  mentioned  a letter  of                                                               
support from the Heritage Foundation in Anchorage.                                                                              
Number 1560                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked Representative Seaton for  his comments as                                                               
cosponsor of the resolution.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said the fiscal  note will be taken  up in                                                               
the  House  Finance   Committee.    He  said   he  thinks  public                                                               
involvement and bringing in the  history of and foresight for the                                                               
State of  Alaska are good things.   He likened [the  designing of                                                               
the state seal] to that for the state flag.                                                                                     
Number 1600                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to report  HCR 5  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
note.   There being  no objection,  HCR 5  was reported  from the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects