Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/01/2003 08:01 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 , 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.